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Full text of "A Walloon Family in America: Lockwood de Forest and His Forbears 1500-1848"

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MAP OF THE REGION NEAR STRAT 

From the United States 



f; 



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J 






I 



if 




FORD AND FAIRFIELD, CONNECTICUT 

Geological Survey 






A Walloon Family in America 

LocKwooD DE Forest and his 

Forbears 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

VOLUME I 



t- 



■ " F 



-t- 



A 

Walloon Family 

IN AMERICA 
Lockwood de Forest 

and his Forbears 1500— 1848 

By MRS. ROBERT W. de FOREST 

Together with 
A VOYAGE TO GUIANA 

BEING THE 

Journal of Jesse de Forest 

And his Colonists 162 3- 1625 
VOLUME I 










BOSTON and NEW TORK Published by 
Houghton Mifflin Company MCMXIV 



COPYMGHT, 1914, BY BMILY JOHNITON OB rOBBTT 
ALL filGHTt BBSBKTBD 

Published December tQj4 



THIS EDITION CONSISTS OF SIX HUNDRED COPIES 

• •• •••• • 



• • * •••••• 

• • * • • * 



tl » f 



P 13 19i5 



C 






Co 

THE DESCENDANTS OP 

JESSE THE WALLOON 

WHOSE IKDOMITABLE COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE 
GAVE THEM A HOME IN THE NEW WORLD 

THAT THEY MAY HOLD HIM AND 
THE GENERATIONS THAT FOLLOWED HIM 

IN DUE HONOR 

r 



I 



Preface 

WHEN I first thought of writing about the 
de Forests, I had in mind merely to tell 
the story of the life of Lockwood de 
Forest, my husband's grandfather, in a pamphlet to 
be compiled from the family papers which I had at 
hand. This idea has expanded by degrees. First, it 
seemed wise to say something about Lockwood's 
G>nnecticut ancestors, those sterling men and wo- 
men who as pioneers were always pushing forward 
into the wilderness. Then it became necessary 
to speak of Isaack de Forest, the founder of the 
family in America, and of his fortunes as an early 
settler in New Amsterdam. Lastly, it grew quite 
imperative to give an account of Jesse, the father of 
Isaack, about whom it is now possible to tell more 
than was ever known before. Thus has a simple 
pamphlet expanded into a book — a book which has 
really been written backward. 

It is, to be sure, not the first volume about the de 
Forest family, for Major John W. De Forest had 
already written an able and interesting history of 
them,* on which he expended years of research. 

* The de Forests of Avesnes (and of New Netherland), a 
Huguenot Thread in American Colonial History, 1494 to the 
Present Time. 1900. 

[vii] 



Preface 

Without Major De Forest's book as a basis, my 
own task would have been infinitely harder and 
might, indeed, never have been undertaken. Much 
new material, however, has been discovered since 
he wrote, and many questions which he raised can 
now be answered. 

It is nearly three hundred years since Jesse de 
Forest crossed the stormy seas with his companions, 
to carry out his long-cherished purpose of planting 
a colony in the New World. And yet, extraordinary 
as it may seem, an account of that voyage, of the 
stay of his colonists in Guiana, and of Jesse's death 
there, has, until a very recent date, remained unno- 
ticed and apparently unknown in the British Mu- 
seum. So interesting and historically valuable has 
the contemporary account of this early colonizing 
venture seemed, that besides using the material 
contained therein in my treatment of the incidents 
of the voyage in Chapter II of this book, I am pub- 
lishing, in Volume II, on pages i88 to 279, the whole 
of the original narrative in the quaint old French of 
the manuscript with an English translation. 

The discovery of this journal, which has some- 
times been called " Jesse de Forest's Journal," gives 
us access to indirect testimony with regard to the 
disputed date of the founding of the New Nether- 
land colony and also disposes of the theory that 
Jesse himself was one of its earliest settlers. 
Whether or not the French and Walloons who 

[ viii ] 



Preface 

were prepared to follow Jesse across the seas to 
Guiana eventually found their way to the Dutch 
colony of New Netherland is still an open question, 
which will be referred to in the course of these pages. 

The " Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts/' ^ re- 
cently translated, have also furnished new informa- 
tion. Through them we now have an account of the 
voyage by which Jesse's three children, Hendrick, 
Isaack, and Rachel, came to America. Also, in these 
papers there are certain dues which, being followed 
up in the historical works of de Laet, van Wassenaer, 
or de Vries, have given us details with which to fill out 
and amplify the story of the lives of these pioneers 
both during their joumeyings and in New Amster- 
dam. There have always been plenty of references in 
the various records of New Amsterdam to Isaack 
de Forest, who lived to be sufficiently "old and 
suitable" to be made a "schepen'' and a "great 
burgher.'' But Hendrick and Rachel died in the 
flower of their youth, and details about their lives, 
meagre enough now, would have been still more 
meagre save for these papers. 

When we come to the Connecticut period, the time 
when Isaack's son David settled in Stratford, I 
depend largely upon Major De Forest's book and 

^ Van Rensselaer Bowier Manuscripts, being the letters of 
Kiliaen van Rensselaer, 1630-1643, and other documents, 
edited and most of them translated by A. J. F. van Laer, 
State Archivist, Albany, N.Y., 1908. 

[«] 



Preface 

Orcutt's History of Stratford,^ also upon the 
papers left by the Rev. Benjamin L. Swan, who 
for several years was the pastor of the G)ngregational 
Church in the little hill town of Monroe (formerly 
New Stratford), where David's son and grandson 
lived. Mr. Swan was a friend of my father-in-law, 
Henry G. de Forest, and in his behalf made re- 
searches in that hill country for a number of years.* 

For many early records of the little town I am 
under obligation to Albert Wheeler, a nephew of 
Mrs. Lockwood de Forest and the present clerk of 
sessions of the G>ngregational Church at Monroe, 
who gave me free access to all the old church docu- 
ments which are still in existence. Town and church 
records were also consulted in Shelton, Stratford, 
Bridgeport, and Fairfield. The many Connecticut 
town histories which I have seen should also be 
mentioned, although they are not always very 
accurate in genealogical details. 

For the Revolutionary material I am indebted 
to that invaluable although necessarily incomplete 
work, " Record of Service of Connecticut Men in 
the War of the Revolution," • and also to the files 

^ Orcutt, Rev. Samuel. A History of the Old Town of 
Stratford and the City of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

* Mr. Swan was the more interested in the de Forests 
because he had married the widow of Charles, half-brother 
of Lockwood de Forest. 

• Compiled under the direction of the Adjutants-General, 
with an introduction by Henry P. Johnston. Hartford, 1889. 



Preface 

of the Pension and War Offices at Washington, from 
the officials of which I received much courtesy. 

Thus we come to the time of Lockwood and 
Mehetabel his wife. For this part of the story I had 
plenty of material — dociunents, letters, and papers 
of all kinds. Many traditions, too, preserved by 
people still living or who have but recently passed to 
their rest have been related to me. 

With regard to the church trial of Lockwood 
de Forest, I have felt that the whole episode was 
most interesting historically, and it has seemed to me 
altogether fortunate that Lockwood's forty docu- 
ments were not destroyed, as so many others have 
been. The reason why I have so carefully and scrup- 
ulously given all the material concerning the prosecu- 
tion is because that course was the only one that lay 
open to me if I were to touch the subject at all. 

So the story grew ! Why have I written it ? Pri- 
marily to preserve the intimate family records of the 
de Forest family in their historical setting for the 
now large number of descendants of Lockwood and 
Mehetabel de Forest. In the second place, I have 
tried to draw a faithful picture of the upbuilding and 
vicissitudes of family life in New York City and 
Connecticut in the early days of our country. The 
history of many another New England family is 
similar to this one, and into such surroundings, 
geographical and political, material and spiritual, as 
are here presented the descendants of these other 

[xi] 



Preface 

families can no doubt fit their own particular records 
or memories. But it must be remembered — if this 
book falls into the hands of readers outside the de 
Forest family who find it filled with little intimate 
details of family life — that one of my aims has been 
to preserve just such details as would help to build 
up for the knowledge of future generations the per- 
sonal characteristics which made the early settlers 
of our country the industrious, strong-hearted, and 
God-fearing, though often blundering, men and 
women that they were. This account is therefore 
the story of the plain, simple life of one of these 
families. Happily there were hundreds and hun- 
dreds of such families, but unfortunately not many 
have left such records as have the de Forests. 

One rather puzzling question I have been obliged 
to decide — the spelling of the de Forest names. It 
has seemed best to me to write the sumame through- 
out as my family now write it — de Forest. The name 
is, indeed, spelled in many different ways in different 
parts of the country. Many of the Albany de For- 
ests, for instance, have become De Freests. As to the 
Christian names, I give each name in the first place 
as I find it in the baptismal record and later spell it 
as the man himself wrote it. For example, Hendrick 
was apparently baptized Henry in Sedan, but was 
always called Hendrick in Leyden and in New 
Amsterdam, and he used the latter name for his 
signature. 

[xii] 



Preface 

In one matter I have been particularly fortunate ; 
that is, with regard to the historical documents in 
the State Library at Albany. A number of them 
referred in one way or another to the de Forest 
family, and most of these I had had translated 
shortly before the fire in the State House which de- 
stroyed so many invaluable and irreplaceable docu- 
ments. Some of these translations will be found in 
the Appendix. 

In addition to the family records in Major De 
Forest's book there is a great deal of early de For- 
est material to be found in Riker's " History of 
Harlem/' ^ although Riker was liable at times to 
adopt conclusions too hastily, and to state them as 
facts. He cannot therefore be believed implicitly. 
The same can be said with reference to Orcutt's 
History of Stratford. 

My thanks are due to many friends who have 
helped me in many ways : to Monsieur Albert Gravet 
of Avesnes, who knows all the old records of that 
little city so well ; to Miss Jane de Forest Shelton of 
Derby, Connecticut, who was herself descended from 
a de Forest and who in " The Salt Box House " had 
written so charmingly and so sympathetically of the 
old Connecticut days and ways; and to Messrs. 

* Riker, James. Revised History of Harlem (City of New 
York). Its Origin and Early Annals. Also the Recovered 
History of the Land-lltles. Illustrations and maps. New 
York, 1904. 

[ ^^ ] 



Preface 

A. J. F. van Laer, Victor H. Paltsits, L N. Phelps 
Stokes, Robert H. Kelby, R. T. Haines Halsey, Wil- 
liam L. Andrews, J. H. Innes, Harris D. Colt, Louis 
E. de Forest, Sterling Potter, Rev. Frank S. Child, 
Sir William van Home, and others, all of whom 
have aided me with advice or have allowed me the 
use of their valuable prints as illustrations. 

E. J. DE F. 



Contents 

A WALLOON FAMILY IN AMERICA 

I. The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

( 1 500-1 606) 3 

II. Jesse de Forest (i576?-i624) 13 

THE PETITIONER FOR FREEDOM 1 3 

THE VOYAGE TO THE NEW WORLD 28 

THE TRAGEDY IN GUIANA 40 

THE colonists' RETURN TO HOLLAND 5 1 



II L Jesse de Forest's Children (1604- 

167a) 57 

PREPARING TO EMIGRATE 57 

WESTWARD AGAIN 69 

THE MUSCOOTA BOUWERIES 8 1 

IV. IsAACK DE Forest, the Founder of 

THE Family in America (i 6 16-1674) 109 

V. David de Forest, the Connecticut 

Pioneer (i 669-1 721) 149 

VI. Samuel de Forest (1704-1777) 174 

VII. The de Forests in War Time (1775- 

1783) at8 

[XV] 



Contents 



VIII. Nehemiah de Forest (i 743-1801) 259 

THE INNKEEPER 259 
NEHEMIAh's neighbor NATHAN 

WHEELER 286 

NEHEMIAH's LAtER YEARS 3OO 



Illustrations 



'Map of the Rbgion near Stratford akd Fair- 
field, Connecticut Front lining pages 

From the United Sutet Geological Smrey 

'Portrait of Lockwood de Forest, about 1838 

{Photogravure) FrontispiiCi 

Owned by his gnmdson, Lockwood de Forest 

•Disused "Porte de Mons," Avesnes 4 

• Site of Melchior de Forest's Vineyard, Avesnes 6 

As it appeared in 19 1 1 

• Seal of Gilles de Forest 12 

In the Archaeological Museum, Avesnes 

' De Staelmeesters, usually called " The Syndics 
of the Cloth Hall," 1675 14 

Painted by Johan de Blaue. In the Takenhal^ Leyden 

• Rinsing, Dyeing, and Testing of Cloth 16 

Painted for the Saaihal (Serge Hall), Leyden, in 1574 by 
Isaac Claesz. In the Lakenhal (Cloth Hall), Leyden, now a 
municipal museum 

• Last Page of Jesse de Forest's Petition to the 

Virginia Company, 1621 18 

British State Papers, dated Holland, 1622 [should read 1611] 

•Round Robin sent with Jesse's Petition to the 
Virginia Company, 1621, with Signatures of 
Walloon and French Petitioners 20 

In the Public Record Office, London 

[ xvii ] 



Illustrations 



' A Dutch Kitchen of about the Time of Jesse de 
Forest 24 

As shown in the Likenhal, Leyden 

'The Burgher Guard, 1626 26 

Painted by «< Mr. David Bailey.'* In the Takenhal, Leyden 

•Jesse de Forest's Signature, 1621 56 

The Patroon, Kiliaen van Rensselaer 70 

Owned by Dr. Howard Van Rensselaer of Albany, a direct 
descendant 

• Model of a Trading Ship or Yacht, probably of 

THE same type AS THE ReNSSELAERSWYCK, ABOUT 

1636 74 

Owned by Sir William Van Home, Montreal 

' Cannon from the Rensselaerswyck, with its Ship- 
Made Gun Carriage 78 

Owned by Eugene Van Rensselaer 

- Hartger's View of New Amsterdam, reversed and 

ENLARGED BY J. H. InNES 82 

NEW AMSTERDAM ABOUT THE TIME OF ISAACK^S ARRIVAL 

New York Public Library, New York City 

'Drawings of Hendrick's Farmhouse as it must 
originally have been built 85 



Map of New Harlem, showing "Montanye's Flat/' 



called by him " Vredendal 



»f 



96 



** Montanye's Fonteyn," as still to be seen flow- 
ing INTO Harlem Mere, Central Park 104 



Hendrick de Forest's Signature 

From Riker*8 « History of Harlem/* P* <65 

Map OF NiEuw Haerlem Village Plots, 1670 

From Riker*s « History of Harlem/' p. a6o 



108 



114 



[ xviii ] 



Illustrations 



* Map showing Isaack*s Lot on Brouwer Straet i i8 

Adapted from maps in << New Amsterdam and Its People^** 
by J. H. Innes 

- Silver Communion Beaker used in the Church in 
THE Fort 120 

Made in Haerlem (Holland) in 1638 

. Small Dutch Yacht or Sloop, about 1630, prob- 
ably SUCH A Sea-Going Yacht as was owned by 
Isaack 126 

From "History of Yachting," by Arthur H. Clark 

•Dutch Cottage in Beaver Street, New York, 
1679 132 

From Valentine* 8 Manual, 1853 

•Map of New Amsterdam, "The Duke's Plan," 
September, 1661 134 

From the original in the British Museum 
• DONCKAERTS AND SlUYTER's DrAWINO OF NeW YoRK 

from Brooklyn Heights, 1679 142 

NEW AMSTERDAM SHORTLY AFTER ISAACK* 8 DEATH 

Owned by the Long Island Historical Society 

•Isaack de Forest's Signature 148 

From a Dutch deed of x 661, in the New York City Hall 

• The Creek, where David, according to Tradition, 

landed 150 

Stratford Meeting-House, from a Drawing of 
about 1778, presumably made by Abijah Brooks 154 

Owned by Mrs. Alice Dorman, Stratford 

. Communion Chauce and Caudle Cups, probably 
made before 1700 156 

Owned by the First Church of Christ, Stratford 



[ 3tix ] 



Illustrations 



' Moses Wheeler's Court Cupboard, made during 

THE LATTER HALF OF THE SEVENTEENTH CeNTURY 1 58 
Owned by Mrs. Timothy Dwight, New Haven 

» Map of a Part of Stratford, Connecticut, adap- 
ted FROM THE Earliest Known Map, 1824 160 

• Doorway of the Wooster House 164 

•House on the Housatonic River Road, where Gen- 
eral David Wooster was born in 17 10 164 

SAID TO BE AN EXACT REPILODUCTION OF DAVID DE FORE8T*S 
HOUSE 

-Chair formerly belonging to David db Forest 166 

Owned by Miss Mary Alice Curtis^ Stratford 

'Stratford Elms as they are Today 170 

'David de Forest's Signature 173 

From a Stuyvesant deed. New York, 169a 

'Portraits of Mary de Forest Mills and Squire 
Elisha Mills 204 

Owned by Miss Catherine L. Mills, Coming, New York 

'House of Hepzibah de Forest Hawley, built 
ABOUT 1757 208 

Still to be seen on Bam Hill 

• Samuel de Forest's Signature as ^^ Clerk of the 

Train Band'* 217 

Connecticut State Ubrary, Hartford 

David Wooster, Esqr., Commander-in-chief of the 
Provincial Army against Quebec 230 

Mezzotint published in London, March, 1776. 

Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776. Retreat 
OF Americans under Lord Stirling across Gow- 
ANus Creek 244 

Engraving by James Smillle after the painting by Alonzo 
Chappel 



[XX] 



Illustrations 



. "College Yard," Princeton, 1764, as it was when 
THE Battle of Princeton took place, January 

3» 1777 252 

Engraving by H. Dawklns after the painting by W. Ten- 
nant. Owned by William Loring Andrews, New York 

' Signature of Samuel de Forest the Fiferin 1832, 

WHEN HE WAS SeVENTY-FOUR YeARS OlD 258 

From the Pension Office Records, Washington, D.C. 

• South View of the Central Part of Monroe 266 

From Barber^s << Historical Collections of Connecticut,' 
1836 



»* 



. Engraving of the Due de Lauzun 278 

From Lossing^s « Pictorial Field Book,** vol. u, p. 308 

"French Hussar, 1772 280 

» CoRNWALLis Surrenders his Arms to Washington 
after the Defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, 
October, 1781. De Lauzun in the Centre 282 

Part of a large drawing by John Francis Renault 

• Academy at Easton, as it looked in 1799 and still 
LOOKS Today 310 

' Nehemiah de Forest's Signature 314 

Connecticut State Library, Hartford 

•Map of Huntington (Ripton) and Monroe (New 
Stratford), Connecticut End lining pages 

From the United States Geological Survey 



A Walloon Family in America 

LOCKWOOD DE FOREST AND 
HIS FORBEARS 



A 

Walloon Family in America 

LOCKWCX)D DE FOREST AND 
HIS FORBEARS 



THE ANCESTRY OF JESSE DE FOREST 

JESSE DE FOREST belonged to the ancient ^w«'^ 
race of Walloons — the " Belgs " of Cxsar's 
day — a race whose history doubtless reaches 
back to even earlier times. The Walloons were a 
warlike people, vigorous, if rude, who spoke, when 
our knowledge of them begins, an old French dialect, 
and whose robust powers soon led them to become 
skilled in industry and trade as well as effective in 
war. Concerning them Major John W. De Forest, 
who has made an exhaustive study of the early de 
Forest material, writes as follows : " Beaten upon by 
the Gauls, the Cimbri, the Romans and the Franks, 
the Walloons stubbornly retain their identity and 
a certain definiteness of boundary, and number to- 
wards four millions of well-looking, strongly-built, 
brunet-skinned and generally dark-haired people, 

[3] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

Jvesms industrious, fervid in temper and always excellent 
soldiers/' ^ 

The Walloon territory was originally that now 
comprised by the northeastern part of France and 
the southwestern part of Belgium. It is said that 
there are still nearly a million of this race living in 
France itself and nearly three millions across the 
border in Belgium. 

Early in the sixteenth century, when our story 
begins, the interest centres in a particular Walloon 
province — that of Hainaut, in the extreme north- 
eastern comer of France. This particular province 
formed in the past an ever-changing boundary 
between France and the Spanish Netherlands and 
was for centuries the battlefield of warring nobles. 
Nor was that all. The province became one of the 
strongholds of the Reformation, and to the conflict 
of warring nobles was added the religious persecu- 
tion of the Spanish princes — a persecution which 
left the Huguenots in the Walloon country no choice 
but destruction or flight. During the latter half of 
the sixteenth century thousands of them fled to 
escape ruin and perchance massacre. 

In the French part of Hainaut there was in early 

* De Forest, John W. The de Forests of Avesnes (and of 
New Netherland), a Huguenot Thread in American Colonial 
History, 1494 ^ ^^ Present Time, p. 16. New Haven, 1900. 
Copies of this book may still be had through the publishers, 
The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, New Haven, 
Connecticut. 

[4] 



DISUSED '* PORTE DE MONS, AVESNES 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

days a flourishing little fortress-city, Avcsnes by Avesms 
name, which was not spared in the troublous times 
when Hainaut was devastated ; it suffered with the 
rest of the province, was owned by many succes- 
sive masters, and was, at least once, completely 
destroyed. 

In this city Jesse de Forest was bom and here his 
forbears had undoubtedly dwelt for several genera- 
tions.^ They bore picturesque and fascinating names 
such as Gilles, Melchior, Anthoine, Jaspard, and 
Balthazar. The family was evidently of good 
burgher stock and there is always the possibility that 
the " de" indicated nobility in the olden times; but 
even if this were the case, it did not deter the various 
scribes from distorting the name in many different 
spellings — du Forret, des Forests, des Foretz, de 
Freest, de Forre, de forre, even fore, and many other 
spellings. Jesse himself always spelled it de Forest. 

The grandparents of our Jesse were Melchior de 
Forest and Catherine Du Fosset of Mons. We do 
not know when they were bom, but they were mar- 
ried in 1533 in Avesnes, which was situated in what 
was then France.* Melchior and his wife were at 
that time of the Catholic faith, although Protes- 
tantism was already beginning to make great pro- 

> All the questions concerning those early de Forests have 
already been most ably discussed in Major De Forest's book, 
and to that authority we would refer our readers. 

* In 1559 Hainaut was ceded to Spain by the French. 

[S] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

^Ht¥ sress in the Netheiiands and especially among the 
Walloons. Meldiior in the old records was called 
^a merchant dwdiling in Avesnes/' or a ^^merdiant 
dmper/' and we know that he was an aldemian there 
in 1563 and 1564. In 1569 he was no longer residing 
within the city but in a little hamlet called Guer* 
signies, situated just boieath the walls of Avesnes. 

This hamlet owed ks being to the fact that on the 
broad plain below^ which faced the south and the 
southeast, there existed even as early as the middle 
of the sixteenth century the extensive vineyards of 
Guersignies. Melchior had evidently at this time 
enlarged his interests so as to include vine growing, 
for he and his wife Catherine had bought up the 
leasehold of more than one tract of land in that 
vicinity, among them a " rente heritable/' which he 
had purchased Q^ April 13, 1556, for a house and gar-* 
den which lay within the "haie** or enclosure just 
beyond the city gates. He had therefore taken up his 
residence in Guersignies, at any rate for part of the 
time, the better to care for his vineyards. No poet 
has sung the praises of the wine of Guersignies and 
the vineyards have disappeared by degrees, although 
a certain number of vines had been preserved until 
within the last few years; when the owner destroyed 
them, saying that as they made " a very poor, thin, 
sour little wine" he had rather use the land for 
something else. 

Melchior died at Avesnes in 1571 and was without 



SITE OF MELCHIOR DE FOREST'S VINEYARD, AVESNES 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

doubt buried from the Cathedral there. The little Jhestus 
city was then the seat of a bishopric, and besides 
the Cathedral it had ecclesiastical residences and 
cloisters; we know that there was also a Chapter 
House for the twelve Canons of the Cathedral Chap- 
ter of St. Nicholas. 

In this Chapter we should feel an 'especial interest, 
for two dc Forests were Canons of the order. One, 
Jaspard, was a son of Melchior, and the other, Gilles, 
was either his son or his nephew. Canon Gilles lived 
long enough to bec(»ne Dean of the Chapter, a dig- 
nity which came with seniority. The office of Canon 
carried with it a right to the title "Messire.'* As a 
tailpiece to this chapter is shown the medal which 
hung on the neck of Messire Gilles. It is of bronze, 
oval in shape, as prescribed for the clergy, and on it 
the inscription reads as follows: '^S. egidii. c. tici. de 
Avesnis'* (Seal of Gilles, clerical dean of Avcsnes). 
This medal is still to be seen in the Archxological 
Museum at Avesnes. 

All Melchior's children held honorable positions. 
Several were aldermen, burghers, and drapers, and 
with the exception of the two Canons all were wool- 
merchants, wool being the staple of industry among 
the Walloons. 

Jean de Forest, the father of Jesse and the first 
Protestant in the family, was the son, probably the 
youngest son, of Melchior de Forest and Catherine 
Du Fosset. The date of his birth must have boWi not 

[7] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

Jvisnes far from 1 543- But before we give the meagre details 
which are available r^arding his life, it behooves us 
to sketch briefly the religious conditicms of his time 
and near his h<xne; for religion became a vital factor 
in determining Jean's life and the lives of his chil- 
dren. When Jean and his brothers and sisters were 
baptized, it was as members of the Catholic church, 
for the Walloon country up to about that time was 
still Catholic in faith. But while Jean was yet young, 
the Huguenot preachers were earnestly at work 
among the Walloons exhorting, distributing Bibles^ 
and stirring up the people against their mother 
church, and it may be that even so early in his life 
Jean became a convert. In any event. Protestant- 
ism through these means took a firm hold upon many 
of the people and in 1566 Protestant uprismgs took 
place in a number of the neighboring small cities. 
Nothing of the kind happened in Avesnes, how- 
ever. Why, we do not know; possibly there was a 
Spanish garrison then within its walls. 

The following year the Catholics came to the front 
once more with furious onslaught and there were 
massacres and burnings and confiscations all around. 
Thus the religious war waged on in the unfortunate 
province of Hainaut, with first one party and then 
the other in power. William of Orange only made 
things worse by coming into the Walloon country at 
the head of a German army. He was completely 
routed, and his soldiers, wild and famished hordes, 

[8] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

were left to prey upon the long-suffering inhabitants. Avesms 
Surely Avesnes was not then a pleasant city in which 
to dwell. 

Nor should we suppose it a propitious moment in 
which to think of love and marriage. Yet it was at 
about this period that Jean took to himself a wife. 
We cannot tell the exact date of this event, for the 
church records are missing and the town records give 
us little information of any kind. It must have been 
about 1570. The name of the bride was Anne Mail- 
lard and she was the daughter of Michel Maillard, 
mayor of the neighboring town of Felleries. 

The site of Jean's house is still to be seen on the 
market-place of Avesnes, although a modem house 
now replaces the old one. Here his four children — 
Melchior, Jesse, Gerard, and a daughter, Anne — 
were bom. The city records make few references to 
Jean, which may indicate that he was often absent 
from Avesnes. He was a draper, and as there must 
have been little demand at home for fine woolen 
cloth during those war times, it is possible that he 
had to travel in search of a market. 

Jean de Forest was probably not a declared fol- 
lower of the Reformed religion while he continued to 
live in Avesnes ; many of the new faith were there at 
that time, but they had to practise their religion in 
secret for fear of the horrors of the Inquisition. When 
at last in 1598 peace between France and Spain was 
declared and the Spanish soldiery were withdrawn, 

[9] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

Avesius the whole Walloon country was in a terribly de- 
vastated condition. Cities were wrecked, fields 
ruined, and highways destroyed or overgrown. 
Avesnes suffered with the rest and was certainly 
not an advantageous centre for a wool merchant 
with a wife and family to support. 
Sedan Perhaps Jean decided to leave the city of his birth 
and to remove with his family to some less disquieted 
region in order to carry on his trade with more se- 
curity. It seems likely, however, that his main rea- 
son was a religious one, and the other members of his 
family apparently were influenced by the same con- 
sideration. At any rate, in 1601, three years after 
peace was declared, Jean, now an avowed Protest- 
ant, is found making his home in the city of Sedan 
(in the little Protestant principality of Luxemburg), 
his son Jesse being with him and avowing the same 
faith. In the Sedan records of 1601 Jean is called a 
"merchant residing in this city," undoubtedly* a 
wool merchant. Sobn after, we find Jean's son 
Melchior, also a Protestant, in Lisle, and before long 

HoOand the youugest son, Gerard, was residing in Leyden, 
Holland, where he became a member of the Re- 
formed Church "by confession of faith." Surely a 
scattering of the clan 1 It therefore seems as if some- 
thing untoward must have occurred — the disasters 
of war or religious persecution, or both — to drive 
the de Forest family from their former home. 
With the breaking up of the old home ties Jean 

[ 10 ] 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

seems to have become pemianently unsettled and Hdiamd 
thereafter was more or less a wanderer. Holland in 
the early seventeenth century was an attractive 
goal for the Protestants. She was rich and free and 
prosperous in every way. Already five hundred 
thousand Walloons had emigrated from France and 
the Roman Catholic Netherlands and most of them 
had taken refuge in Holland, carrying with them 
their skill in manufactures, their industry, and their 
splendid warlike qualities. So what more natural 
than that Jean and his family should also seek this 
free country, where every one had an opportunity to 
make the most of his talents. As we have said, Jean 
was living in Sedan in 1601 and we know that he was 
then present at his son Jesse's wedding in that town. 
The following year Jean and his wife had already 
gone to Berghen op Zoom, where they remained 
long enough to join the church there. In 1603 we 
hear of them as members of the church in Leyden, 
and the next year they belonged to that in Amster- 
dam. 

Here Anne Maillard, Jean's wife, elected to re- 
main, and with good reason, for her young daughter, 
Anne, had lived there, probably with relations, ever 
since 1601. Anne de Forest was only seventeen 
when her mother joined her in 1604, and the mother 
probably felt that the young girl needed her care. 
Two years later we find a betrothal taking place, 
that of Anne de Forest, aged nineteen, and Jean le 



The Ancestry of Jesse de Forest 

ffoBwirf Fevreof Leyden, "aboy of twenty two." * He was 
called a "caffatier," though what that might have 
been it is now impossible to say. The would-be bride 
was told to get the written consent of her father, but 
when the paper came, it was found to have been 
signed by the minister at Vosmecr (near Berghen 
op Zoom), where presumably her father was then 
living. He may have been ill at the time and so have 
asked the minister to sign for him or it is even pos- 
sible that he may have died ; in any event, this epi- 
sode marks the last discoverable trace of Jean, the 
first Protestant in the de Forest family. 

■ A boy according to Dutch law was not of age until he 
was twenty-five years old. 



II 

JESSE DE FOREST 

I 576?-! 624 

The Petitioner for Freedom 

HAVING already shown the kind of stock Avesms 
from which Jesse dc Forest sprang, with 
all its sterling qualities, we must now 
turn to Jesse's own history, which, notwithstanding 
all the gaps in its sequence, is noteworthy. 

He was bom in Avesnes and spent his boyhood 
there during the time of the little city's great stress,^ 
so that the young Huguenot was probably imbued 
from his earliest days with hatred for the enemies 
of his country and his religion and with longing for 
freedom and escape from religious persecution. The 
turbulent scenes of his childhood undoubtedly sup- 
plied the motives which underlay the acts of his 
subsequent life. 

The first mention which we find of Jesse tells of Sidan 
his marriage at Sedan in 1601. Assuming that he 
was then twenty-five, we should place his birth in the 

^ When Jesse's parents and grandparents were bom in 
Avesnes it belonged to France, but at the time of Jesse's 
birth it was in the Spanish Netherlands. It has often been 
asserted that when Jesse lived there Avesnes was a Bel- 
gian city, but this is quite incorrect, as Belgium did not 
become a separate kingdom until 1830. 

[ 13 J 



Jesse de Forest 



Sidan year 1576. His father had left Avesnes for Sedan at 
some time during the three years prior to 1601, so 
that Jesse had had opportunity in the latter place to 
meet and to be attracted by young Marie du Cloux. 
She was the daughter of Nicaise du Cloux, a fellow- 
merchant of Jesse's father. The members of the du 
Cloux family were people of good position in Se- 
dan — merchants, barristers, and surgeons. The wed- 
ding of Jesse de Forest and Marie du Cloux took 
place on Sunday, September 23, 1601, "at the 
Catechism,'* and the Sieur du Tilloy (evidently the 
Protestant minister) blessed their marriage. 

The next year, July 7, 1602, the same pastor bap- 
tized their daughter, Marie, and this baptism was 
followed by others: Jean (later called Jan or Jehan), 
July 22, 1604; Henry (known to us, however, as 
Hendrick), March 7, 1606; Elizabeth, November i, 
1607 ; and David, December 11, 1608. After this last 
record there is a gap of eight years in the Sedan 
church register, and so the birth date of the next 
child, Rachel, is lost, but it probably was in 1609, 
the year when Henry Hudson discovered the great 
river which bears his name, on the shores of which 
Rachel was later to make her home. 

When Jesse's father went to Holland in 1602, 
he must have left his mercantile business in Se- 
dan to Jesse, for in that year we first find the latter 
spoken of as ^' merchant,'' undoubtedly a merchant in 
woolen cloth. Jesse probably stayed in Sedan in 

[ 14] 



I 



e3 

H ! 



= if I 
5 p. i 



ii 



The Petitioner for Freedom 



this capacity until 1607, when wc find him, for a few Uyden 
years, at a place not far off called Montcomet ; it was 
there that he was first called "merchant-dyer/' He 
then followed the rest of his family to Holland, 
where his name appears in the Walloon registers of 
Leyden in 161 5. 

His brothers, who had preceded him to Holland, 
were already established there, Melchior, the eldest 
brother, in 161 1 had become a member of the Pro- 
testant church in Amsterdam and there he had mar- 
ried. Gerard, Jesse's younger brother, of whom we 
shall have a good deal to tell in the course of our 
story, was in Leyden as early as 1605, and in 1606, 
having already obtained permission to become a 
"dyer in black,'* bought land of the Leyden burgo- 
masters for a dye-house. In 1616 he bought a 
house upon the Mare, and the next year purchased 
the rights of citizenship. He found his bride in 
Lqrden, although she also was of French descent — 
Hester de la Grange, daughter of Crispin de la 
Grange, who was a fellow-dyer. Gerard and his wife 
had six children. 

With this brief mention of the other brothers, wc 
must return to Jesse, in whom we are most interested. 
When Jesse came to Leyden in 1615, he was pre- 
sumably still a merchant in woolen cloth and had 
been a dyer for seven years. To become a dyer in 
Leyden, however, was not an entirely simple matter. 
First, the petitioner had to apply to the magistrates 

[•S] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leyden of the city for admission to thc Diapcrs' Guild The 
magistrates then sent the request to the Superin- 
tendents and Governors of the Drapers' Guild for 
"advice." The advice being favorable, the peti- 
tioner took "the customary oath to the Burgomasr 
ters and Rulers of the City'* and promised to "con- 
duct himself according to rules and regulations made 
and hereafter to be made with regard to the said 
dyeing/' 

There were at that time two classes of dyers: 
those who were permitted to dye in black only, and 
others, a higher and restricted class, who because of 
their proficiency could dye in colors. To the latter 
class Jesse was admitted and, having become a 
member of the Drapers' Guild, was allowed to dye 
"wools and camlets" in colors. 

In Leyden Jesse and Marie lived on the Breede- 
straet, where four more children were bom to them : 
Jesse, baptized March i, 1615 ; Isaac, July 10, 1616; 
Israel, October 7, 1617; and Philippe, September 13, 
1620, making ten children in all — a good many for 
our refugee to care for. Apparently he found diffi- 
culty in providing for them ; for in 1618 he owed fifty 
florins on the rent of his house, and for this pitiful 
siun was obliged to pledge his furniture and dyery- 
cauldron. No wonder that he looked about him to 
discover a better opportunity for a man with a large 
family of young children and nothing but a dyer's 
business wherewith to support them. 

[ 16] 



RIKSING, DYEING, AND TESTING OF CLOTH 

In the foreground the •insm, to the left the dyeing, and to the light the officiil teidng of the cloth. 
Piinltd Ibr the Sialhil (SEfge HaU), Leyden, in i %^^ bf luac Clusi. In the Lakenhil (Cloth 



The Petitioner for Freedom 

He had already moved twice since his marriage — Leyden 
perhaps he had better move again. Holland had 
become very crowded since so many Protestants had 
gone thither for safety. Was there, perchance, a place 
with wider opportunities and more space in which to 
grow — a place, of course, where he and his family 
could practise their religion ? For the sake of their 
faith they had already given up many things, and 
they were prepared to dare and to sacrifice still 
further. 

In Leyden at this period there was a company 
of English Protestants who with their pastor, John 
Robinson, had taken refuge there from the religious 
persecution of their native land. It is known that 
much cordiality and friendship existed between these 
French and English Protestants, so that it must have 
been a matter of great interest and inspiration to 
Jesse when a part of this company, the "Pilgrim 
Fathers,'* left Leyden in 1620 to try their fortunes in 
the New World. The Pilgrims hoped by this move to 
preserve not only their religion but also their lan- 
guage. Would it not be well for the Walloons to fol- 
low their example? 

It is not unlikely that Jesse had had such thoughts 
vaguely in mind when as a boy he lived in Avesnes 
and felt the stem hand of religious oppression weigh- 
ing upon his father. So he brooded, till the idea of 
leading a colony of Protestant Walloons to the New 
World became a veritable obsession. Jesse, however, 

[ 17] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leyden could not be Satisfied with brooding. He was a man 
of action; with him planning was by natural se- 
quence followed by energetic efforts to put his plans 
into execution. So active and efficient was he that in 
the following year, 1621, he had already enlisted 
some fifty or sixty Walloon and French Protestant 
families who were ready to emigrate to the New 
World under his leadership. 

The Dutch nation laid claim at that time to large 
tracts of land in North America, although they had 
not yet made any serious attempts to plant settle- 
ments there. They purposed fomiing a Dutch West 
India Company which should manage all such mat- 
ters, but the Company was not as yet organized. 

The Pilgrim Fathers had gone to America under a 
patent from the Virginia Company and some of 
Jesse's compatriots had gpne with them. It was 
quite natural, therefore, all these things considered, 
that Jesse himself should propose to emigrate with 
his followers under the auspices of the same com- 
pany. So, being in all things the leader of the enter- 
prise, Jesse went to The Hague to see the British 
Ambassador, Sir Dudley Carleton, and to lay before 
him his cherished plan of emigration. The Ambas- 
sador has left us an account of the interview, written 
on July 19, 1621, to the British State Secretary. 

"There hath been with me of late," he wrote, **a 
certaine Walon, in the name of divers families, men 
of all trades and occupations, who desire to goe unto 

[ 18] 



LAST PAGE OF JESSE DE FOREST's PETITION TO THE VIRGINIA COMPANY, 1 62 1 

British State Papers, dated Holland, 1622 [should read 1621] 



The Petitioner for Freedom 

Virginia. ... I required of him his demands in writ- Liydm 
ingy with the signatures of such as were to bear part 
therein both of which I send your honor herewith." 

Two days after the interview, Jesse presented the 
"demands/' written by him in French and signed by 
him.^ In this document, a very able one, Jesse asked 
in the name of the colonists 'Whether it would please 
His Majesty to permit fifty or sixty families, as well 
Walloons as French, all of the Reformed religion, to 
gp and settle in Virginia, a country under his rule, 
and whether it would please him to undertake their 
protection and defence from and against all and to 
maintain them in their religion/' 

The would-be colonists, said Jesse, were willing to 
provide one ship themselves if His Majesty would 
provide a second one, as they might number three 
hundred persons, besides many head of cattle. They 
also asked that they be granted in Virginia "a cir- 
cuit or territory of eight English miles radius*' ; that 
is, sixteen miles in diameter, wherein no outsiders 
should dwell. Here they wished to " build a city for 
their protection and furnish it with the necessary 
fortifications," to elect a governor and magistrates, 
to make their own powder, cannon, and balls, to cut 
their own timber, and to hunt game, whether furred 
or feathered. They asked, in a word, "whether they 

^ For a translation of this document and those which fol- 
low, see Appendix of The de Forests of Avesnes, p. 190 et 
seq. 

[ 19] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leydin might Hiakc usc of everything above, and below 
ground according to their will and pleasure, saving 
the royal rights/' In this territory they wished to 
reserve " Inferior Seigneurial Rights " : that is, they 
asked that ** those who could live as nobles should ' 
be permitted to style themselves as such/' Under 
these conditions they promised "such fealty and 
obedience as loyal and obedient subjects owe to their 
King and Sovereign Lord/' 

Accompanying this document was a Round Robin, 
in size 18X13^ inches, signed by fifty-six men, most 
of them heads of families, the whole number compris- 
ing two hundred and twenty-seven men, women, 
and children/ Jesse's name was, of course, one of 
the fifty-six and he proposed to take with him his 
wife and the five children then at home. These were, 
according to the Leyden poll tax of 1622, " Jean, 
Henry, Rachel, Isaac, and Geche, Jr/' [Jesse]. 

Within the circle of the Round Robin were a few 
words promising that the signers would settle in 
Virginia "under the conditions set forth in the 
articles which we have communicated," and ending 
rather significantly, "and not otherwise." This in- 
scription, as well as the document of demands, is in 
the handwriting of Jesse de Forest. 
After the demands were sent, on July 21, 1621, the 



^ In C. W. Baird's History of the Huguenot Emigration to 
America, vol. i, p. 162, the names of the men who signed the 
Round Robin may be found. 



[20] 



f 
I 

J 

I 



N ^ 



} 



U 



f; 



\ 



"3 



ROUND ROBIN SENT WITH JESSE's PETITION TO THE VIRGINIA COMPANY, 162I 
WITH SIGNATURES OF WALLOON AND FRENCH PETITIONERS 

In the Public Record Office, London 



~:i 




The Petitioner for Freedom 

Walloons hoped for a speedy answer, for they were Leyden 
anxious to start the following March. The answer 
returned by the Virginia Company on August nth 
was not at all what Jesse had hoped for. His great 
object was to have his colonists dwell together and 
apart from others, so that they might maintain their 
religion as well as their language. But the Virginia 
Company thought otherwise. 

The Directors said that they saw no " inconven- 
ience" in having three hundred Walloons and French 
settle in Virginia. On the other hand, they " esteeme 
it so Royall a favour in His Ma'tie and so singular 
a benefit to the said Walloons and if renchmen, to bee 
admitted to live in that fruitful land " that, in fact, 
they could do nothing for them but — give them 
good advice. They did, moreover, "concieve it not 
expedient that the sayd if amilies should sett downe 
in one grosse bodie," but they offered to place them 
"by convenient nombers in the principall Citties 
Borroughs and Corporacions in Virginia.*' 

This was, of course, a bitter disappointment. To 
scatter the settlers would prove a direct blow to 
their language as well as to their religion — the re* 
ligion to which they clung so tenaciously and for 
which they were willing to sacrifice so much. But 
Jesse was not discouraged. He had to give up the 
idea of taking his people to America under the pro- 
tection of the English, but he considered that his 
project was not really defeated, only delayed. 

[21 ] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leyden FoF somc eight months Jesse de Forest waited, 
perfecting his plans, possibly also hoping from day 
to day that the Dutch West India Company would 
be organized. Seeing, however, that the formation 
of that august body was advancing with truly Dutch 
deliberation, he carried his petition (in April, 1622) 
to the powerful provincial legislature, known as the 
"States of Holland and West Friesland/' He ap- 
parently asked them to make arrangements for con- 
veying to the West Indies certain families of the 
Christian Reformed religion and to authorize him 
to enlist such families. It must be understood that 
the term West Indies as then used included both 
North and South America. The States referred the 
plan for advice to the Directors of the still incom- 
plete West India Company, who approved of it but 
counseled delay till they should be fully incorpor- 
ated. They urged the States, however, to promote 
the plan and to promise that the families should be 
employed after their arrival. 

It appears that nothing further was done, and 
after waiting four months more, Jesse took up the 
matter anew, this time with the national legislative 
body, the States General (of the United Nether- 
lands), asking for "authorization to inscribe and 
enroll, for the colonies, families of the Christian re- 
formed Religion willing to make the voyage to the 
West Indies for the advancement and service of 
the West India Company." 

[22] 






The Petitioner for Freedom 

The States General referred the petition once liydnt 
more to the provincial body, to whom Jesse had al- 
ready applied, the States of Holland and West 
Friesland, and on August 27, 1622, they in turn sent 
him an answer granting his request and authorizing 
"the said Jesse des Forest . • . to enroll for the colo- 
nies all families having the qualifications requisite for 
being of use and service to the country, the same to 
be transported to the West Indies/' the only condi- 
tions being that he should do so with the "mutual 
knowledge and consent" of the authorities in the 
various cities where he might enroll his colonists and 
that he furnish "a report thereof to the honorable 
GentlemenJ 

It thus becomes evident that Jesse was planning 
to enlarge the scope of his enrollment so as to include 
citizens from other Dutch cities as well as Leyden, 
and it is also evident that he no longer made such 
sweeping demands as at first. He did not even ask 
that his colonists might govern themselves. 

Until within a few years it has been supposed that 
the Resolutions of the States of Holland and West 
Friesland contained the last authentic mention of 
Jesse de Forest's enterprises. Many have been the 
surmises as to his fate, and many the regrets that 
it could not be known whether he ever realized his 
hopes by going with a colony of his own people to 
the land of his desires. 

While so many surmises were current, there lay 

[ ^3l 



Jesse de Forest 



UytUn hidden in the British Museum^ a most interesting 
and remarkable manuscript — a "Journal" of the 
voyage whereby Jesse did indeed lead a colony 
across the seas, together with an account of his death 
in Guiana, far from his Ehitch home and family. 
The title of the manuscript as given on the first 
page is "Journal du voyage faict par les peres de 
families enuoyes par Mrs. les Directeurs de la Com- 
pagnee des Indes occidentales pour visiter la coste 
de Gujane/* * 

The identity of the writer of the Journal, a mat- 
ter of great interest to scholars, cannot be clearly 
established. The manuscript has been spoken of as 
"Jesse de Forest's Joumal," but Jesse died before 
many of the events related in the later pages had 
occurred. It is not improbable that one of Jesse's 
colonists, Jean Mousnier de la Montagne, " estudient 
en medicine," was, for at least part of the time, the 
scribe. We shall probably never know surely.* 

From the Joumal itself we learn that Jesse, who 



* Sloane MS. 179 b under the heading "Guiana." 

* This interesting contemporary narrative of Jesse's ad* 
venture, together with all information available concerning it, 
appears in Volume II of this work, at p. 169, under the 
title, " A Voyage to Guiana, being the Joumal of Jesse de 
Forest and His Colonists, 1623 -1 625." It has also been 
used as source material throughout this chapter. 

' For a full treatment of this subject, with such evidence 
as the writer could gather in support of her theory that La 
Montagne was the scribe, at any rate of the later part, see 
the Introduction to the Joumal, pp. lySff. 



HEN OF ABOUT THE TIME OF JESSE DE FOREST 
Ai (hown in ihc Lakenlul, Lcfiat 



The Petitioner for Freedom 

in 1622 had been authorized to ^'inscribe and Leyien 
enroll'' families, had not been idle, but, true to 
his detemiination to found a colony across the 
seas, in 1623 had already secured the names of 
a number of families who desired to settle in the 
Indies. 

The West India Company was finally organized on 
June 21, 1623, and it immediately began to fomi 
vast projects — so vast that they were expected to 
astonish the world. One mighty fleet under Admiral 
Willekens was to wrest Brazil from the Spaniards ; 
another was to seize the coasts of Congo and Angola, 
so as to ensure a supply of negro slaves for work in 
the new territory; still another squadron was to 
cruise on the Atlantic and destroy all Spanish war 
vessels. A single ship, probably to be followed by 
others, was to establish a colony on the Hudson 
River, and several vessels were also to plant colonies 
and trading posts along the "Wild Coast," as the 
northeastem coast of South America was then called. 

In these last colonies our interest centres, for, as 
the Journal says, "at the beginning of their ad- 
ministration" the West India Ccnnpany fitted out a 
small ship of about ninety tons, named the Pigeon, 
probably such as was called a yacht, to visit the 
Amazons and the coast of Guiana. This ship was 
to be commanded by Pieter Fredericsz of Harlem. 

Jesse then felt that his opportunity had come. 
His first plan, to gp to North America, had indeed 



Jesse de Forest 



Leydin failed, but the accounts of South America were in 
some ways more alluring. The Dutch merchants 
at this period thought the colonization of North 
America second in importance to that of the south- 
erly continent. At the trading posts of South 
America they expected to find gold and possibly 
jewels, also dye-woods, coffee, and spices, in com- 
parison with which valuable and picturesque pro- 
ducts the furs, tobacco, and building timber of the 
northern continent seemed comparatively unim- 
portant; they certainly did not tempt with the same 
glamour. 

Therefore, Jesse eagerly petitioned the West India 
Company that his families might be "employed in 
the service of the Company" and transported to 
South America. Holland was now swarming with 
refugees whose only plea was for employment, and 
Jesse also was ready to be satisfied if the company 
would convey his families across the seas and prom- 
ise to employ them after arrival. 

The directors with obvious wisdom objected to 
the wholesale experiment of transporting families at 
once, but offered to take Jesse and some of the heads 
of families — "Pires de families," as they called 
them — to the Wild Coast to select for themselves 
an advantageous site and to prepare it for the 
colony before risking the lives of women and chil- 
dren. A small band of men was therefore selected — 
ten besides our friend Jesse. We quote once more 

[26] 



THE BURGHER GUARD, 1626 
Ptinted hy "Mr. Dirid Biilejr." In the Lakenhil, Leaden 



The Petitioner for Freedom 

from the Journal: "There were chosen for this pur- Uyden 
pose Louis Le Maire, Barthelemi Digan, Anthoine 
Descendre, Anthoine Beaumont, Jehan Godebon, 
Abraham Douillers, D(Hninique Masure, Jehan and 
Gilles Dajmes brothers and Jehan Mousnier de la 
Montague, over whom when landed the said Jesse 
desforest was to have command/' 

A few words are necessary regarding the members 
of this party and their leader. Four of the men 
selected had signed the Round Robin in July, 1621, 
and now two years later were still eager for emigra- 
tion — Jesse de Forest (or, as in the Round Robin, 
"Jesse de Forest, tincturier"); Barthelemi Digan 
(or "Barthelemy Digand, scyeur de bois") ; Anthoine 
Descendre (or "Anthoin Desendre, laboureur"); 
and Jehan Mousnier de la Montague ("Mousnier 
de la Montague, estudient en medicine'')* As we 
have just heard, Jesse de Forest was to be in 
charge of his colonists after they landed. 

The identity and separate duties of the two men 
known in the Joumal under the titles of "our 
Master" and "our Captain" are somewhat puzzling 
at first, but they become clear after a little study. 
The Pigeon was under command of Pieter Fredericsz 
of Harlem, "our Master," "le Maistre de navire," 
as he was called. The peres de families were placed 
under his direction until such time as they should 
find a location to suit them for their settlement, 
after which they were to be under the leader- 

[27] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leyden ship of Jcssc dc Forcst, "our Captain."^ He was 
indeed a judicious and capable leader, as We shall 
see from the tale narrated in the Journal. Among 
his services we note that he discovered good places 
for dyeing cotton and that he collected plants 
from which dyestuff s could be made — for we 
must not forget that Jesse was a "tincturierJ 



fi 



The Voyage to the New World 

At this point, Jesse^s Joumal becomes of real 
significance not only in the reconstruction of Jesse's 
own life, but also for the evidence which it gives in 
regard to a subject of historic importance over which 
there has been considerable controversy — the date 
of the founding of the New Amsterdam colony. It 
has even been claimed that Je^se himself should be 
considered the " Founder of New York," and it is 
interesting to trace how this very natural assump- 
tion came to be made. Before the discovery of the 
Joumal our knowledge of Jesse practically came to 
an end with the statement of his brother Gerard in 
December, 1623, that Jesse "removed from here 
[Leyden] by the last ships which sailed from here 
for the West Indies." If we remember that March, 
1623, has been considered by many reliable histo- 
rians as the date when the good ship New Nether- 
land, under command of Comelis Mey, left Holland 

* For proof of these assumptions see Volume II, pp. 117 f., 
in the Introduction to the Journal. 

[28] 



The Voyage to the New World 

for New Netherland, what so natural as to infer that leyden 
Jesse had sailed in this ship with the colony which 
he had enlisted apparently for that purpose ? ^ The 
ship was fitted out by the Amsterdam Chamber of 
the West India Company, with whom we know that 
Jesse negotiated, and she conveyed a colony of 
thirty families, "mostly Walloons," to New Nether- 
land.^ The term "West Indies" used by Gerard in 
the statement about his brother was frequently if 
not usually employed to describe the whole of the 
Western Continent, so that the assumption that 
Jesse had led his colony at last to the site of the 

* Even Major John W. Dc Forest, who was in all matters 
a careful and accurate historian, not only urged this theory 
in his book, already referred to, but wrote long articles to 
sustain his claim. 

* Nicolaes van Wassenaer, the contemporary Dutch his- 
torian, in his Historical Account of all the Memorable 
Events in Europe, Asia and Africa, happening from 162 1 to 
1632, vol. VII, p. II, under date of 1624, says: **The West 
India Company • • . equipped in the spring a vessel of 130 
lasts, called the Nieu Nederlandt, whereof Comelis Jacobsz 
May of Hoom was skipper, with a company of 30 families, 
mostly Walloons, to plant a colony there. They sailed in 
the beginning of March, and directing their course by the 
Canary Islands, steered towards the Wild Coast, and gained 
the west wind which luckily [took] them in the beginning of 
May into the river called, first Rio de Montagnes^ now the 
river Mauritius [Hudson River], lying in 40J degrees." 

Although we have van Wassenaer's authority for the 
statement that Mey steered toward the Wild Coast, he evi- 
dently did not stop at the Wyapoko or we should have read 
of it in the Journal. He may, however, have touched at the 
Essequibo, where there was a Dutch colony, or at the Carib- 
bean Islands, where ships often stopped in passing. 

[29] 



Jesse de Forest 



Leydin great city where his own descendants were later 
domiciled seemed wholly reasonable. 

We shall see what are the facts which the Joumal 
and other recently discovered papers disclose to us. 

On board thi It was on Saturday, July i, 1623, that the peres 
*^'^ de families left Leyden, "that goodly and pleasant 
citie/' as the Pilgrim Fathers had called it, embark- 
ing at Amsterdam with hearts full of hope and con- 
fidence that they would before long be at their 
desired haven. It was expected that a yacht, the 
Mackerel, which had already left Holland, would 
join the Pigeon, so that the two ships could sail to- 
gether as far as the Amazon. From there the Mack- 
erel was to go on to New Netherland. Both vessels 
hoped to accompany for a time a fleet which was on 
its way to Guinea to procure slaves — in fact, the 
date for the sailing of the Pigeon had been arranged 
expressly so as to secure this added protection. But 
an injury to the mast of the Mackerel necessitated 
delay, and the desired opportunity was lost. For 
a short time the two ships joined a fleet bound for 
Morocco under Captain Couast, but again the mast 
of the Mackerel gave way and she and the Pigeon 
were obliged to come to anchor. 

On July 28th, being then anchored off the Downs, 
Kent County, they met Pieter Jansz of Flushing 
(probably an old friend) with the ship of which he 
hiad command. Pieter Fredericsz, the Master of the 

[30] 



The Voyage to the New World 

Pigeon, invited Jansz and the Master of the Mack- On board th 
erel on board and entertained them well, after which ^^^^^ 
a squabble arose between the Master of the Pigeon, 
who seems to have been a rather rough and quarrel- 
some kind of man, and his principal sailors. Harsh 
words were spoken on both sides, as a result of which 
seven of his minor officers and crew left him, and he 
had the greatest difficulty in filling their places. It 
thus became necessary to find a new surgeon to re- 
place the one who had just left and that, too, caused 
an added delay, for the new surgeon wished to get 
married before sailing and then the Master had to 
give another feast in honor of him and his friends. 
So, what with contrary winds and one cause for 
delay following another, it was nearly two months 
after the voyagers set sail from Amsterdam before 
they rounded Cape Finisterre. 

Near Finisterre they descried another vessel and 
promptly gave chase. This was kept up till night- 
fall. Even then the Master wished to follow still 
farther in spite of the darkness and the disapproval 
of the pilot, but he was finally dissuaded. A few 
days later, still another sail was sighted and the 
Pigeon again started in pursuit, although this time 
the chase was more difficult, as there was no wind. 
The Master, however, was not to be discouraged by 
a trifle of that kind and all hands wereput to work 
at the oars. On overhauling this ship, it was found 
that she was an English vessel retuming from New- 

[31 ] 



Jesse de Forest 



On board the foundland. Holland and England were on friendly 
**^^** terms at this time, which one would think was rea- 
son enough for letting the ship alone, but those were 
days when all seafarers were more or less buccaneers, 
and the Master retumed from his visit to the other 
vessel laden with provisions and with ^'much cloth- 
ing taken from the chests of the sailors/' 

Then Jesse's righteous indignation was aroused 
and he asserted himself to the extent of insisting on 
the return of the clothes, which he evidently con- 
sidered personal property. The pilot also asserted 
himself and accused the Master of delaying the voy- 
age, contrary to his orders, by following the coast, 
presumably in search of booty. Thereafter the 
Pigeon was sailed on a more direct course, and all 
went well with the two ships until September 14th, 
when they were not far from the Island of Madeira. 
At that point, the wind being favorable, the Mack- 
erel left the other vessel, lajring her course, accord- 
ing to the Joumal, /or New Netherland. 

Here it is worth while to pause for a moment in 
our narrative to follow the Mackerel to her an- 
chorage in the Hudson River. Van Wassenaer, in 
his Historical Account, under date of April, 1624, 
speaks as follows regarding this vessel: "The yacht 
'Maeckereel' sailed out last year 1623 on the i6th of 
June and arrived yonder [in New Netherland] on 
the 1 2th of December. That was indeed somewhat 
late but it wasted time in the savage islands, to 

[ 32] 



The Voyage to the New World 

catch a fish (a Spanish prize), and did not catch it, o» hoard thi 
80 ran the luck." According to this statement, the ^^^^ 
yacht reached the Hudson River in December, and 
there we leave her for the winter months. 

Meanwhile the New Netherlands as we know, 
was crossing the seas with the thirty families, 
"mostly Walloons," on board, and they arrived 
early in May in the bay below Manhattan Island. 
There they found a French vessel just about to 
claim the land in the name of the King of France, 
and there they also found the little yacht Mack- 
erel, which van Wassenaer tells us "had lain above" 
in the Hudson River during the winter, but which 
in this most critical moment was opportunely on 
hand to aid in expelling the French intruder. 

We have said that the date of the arrival of the 
New Netherland has for years been a subject of 
dispute among historians, some claiming that it was 
1623 and some that it was 1624. Our Journal would 
dearly settle the date even were there no other posi- 
tive proof, for from it we leam that the Mackerel 
left the Pigeon dff the Island of Madeira in Sep- 
tember, 1623, her objective point being New Nether- 
land. The meeting with the ship New Netherland 
could not, therefore, have taken place until May, 
1624, because it would have been manifestly im- 
possible for the little Mackerel to have been in the 
harbor of Manhattan Island in May, 1623, and to 
have returned to Holland in time to have sailed 

[33] 



Jesse de Forest 



On board the fiom there on the sixteenth of June, 1623, according 
^''^* to van Wassenaer's contemporary testimony. 

If we need further evidence, it is to be found in 
the first of five very important documents recently 
discovered — evidently contemporary copies of orig- 
inal West India Company records — which gives 
the full instructions sent over with Mey of the New 
Netherland for the conduct of the new colony. This 
paper is dated March, 1624, which further fixes the 
year, as no one seems to doubt the authenticity of 
these papers. They were signed by three members of 
the West India Company.^ Unfortimately no list 
of the colonists is given. 

We seem to have made a long digression in pursuit 
of information about this colony, but all these rami- 
fications really have a very direct bearing upon 
questions conceming Jesse and his colonists; for al- 
though we know from the evidence of the Joumal 
itself that our Jesse never came to New Netherland, 
it is by no means so certain that the signers of 
Jesse's Round Robin were not among the earliest 
colonists at New Amsterdam. We know them to 
have been mostly Walloons, and van Wassenaer 
tells us further that they were freemen — that is, 

^ The original records of the West India Company were 
destroyed about 1820 (see Brodhead and others), and the 
originals of these papers presumably shared the same fate. 
The manuscripts antedate any others now extant having 
reference to the settlement of New Amsterdam. These five 
documents were sold in Amsterdam in June, 1910. 



[34] 



The Voyage to the New World 

not connected with any special colony. That is all On boofd th 
we know about them personally. The records of ^''^ 
New Amsterdam for the first fifteen years are not in 
existence, but after these fifteen silent years we find 
mentioned in them many surnames which are also 
among the signatures on Jesse's Round Robin of 
1621, his first list of colonists. Besides the names of 
de Forest and La Montague, we find the following: 
Comille, Campion, Catoir, Damont, De Carpentier, 
De Croy, De Crenne, Du Four, De la Mot, Du Pon, 
De Trou, Caspar, Ghiselin, Gille, Lambert, Le Roy, 
Le Rou, Maton, Martin. This would seem to be 
somewhat more than a coincidence, but in default of 
any proof we cannot assert that the owners of these 
names belonged to the families whom Jesse '* in- 
scribed and enrolled." As far as the dates are con- 
cerned, it would even have been possible for the 
eight peres de families, who, as we shall soon hear, 
returned from Guiana to Holland on the Pigeon,' to 
have reached there in time to sail again on the New 
Netherland in the latter part of March, 1624; for 
they left the Wyapoko on January i, 1624, and they 
could probably have crossed the Atlantic in less 
than two months. 

But alluring as this theory is and even probable as 
it may be that some of Jesse's colonists were among 
the first settlers of New Amsterdam, we can assert of 
them only what the Journal tells us, and to that nar* 
rative we must now return. 

• [35 1 



Jesse de Forest 



On board the After the departure of the Mackerel, the Pigeon 
*^'^ sailed onward alone, stopping occasionally at islands 
where the Master thought they might find fresh pro- 
visions. Some of the islands were uninhabited, but 
on one of them the voyagers saw large prairies on 
which herds of cows were grazing. The Master 
landed and conferred with the negro inhabitants, who 
promised him bucks and other provisions "to-mor- 
row." When the morrow came, not an animal was in 
sight — they had all been driven into the moun- 
tains, — which proves that savages are not always so 
simple and trusting as their more sophisticated white 
friends. 

Naturally, there are plenty of fish stories told in 
the Joumal. Many flying fish fell upon the deck, and 
a seven-foot shark was caught, whose living family 
was discovered inside of it, but the most remarkable 
tale is that told of a little fish like a herring with a 
"flat head shaped like the moon." By the top of its 
head this little fish had attached itself to the belly of 
the shark and when the sailors put the little fish into 
an empty cask, it climbed out, aiding itself by the 
top of its head ! Impossible as this tale seems, there 
really is a fish, the "Remora" or "Stay-fish," which 
is able to perform as remarkable gymnastics as those 
here described. 

On October i6th, the ship, having now almost 
reached the equator, neared the North Cape, which 
was just north of the mouth of the Amazon. Here 

[36] 



The Voyage to the New World 

our company sighted another sail — and behold, it on board ihi 
turned out to be that of Pieter Jansz of Flushing, ^^'"^^ 
whom they had left off the English Downs I The two 
ships enterefd the Amazon together on October aist, 
fifty days after the Pigeon had left Plymouth. 

Pieter Jansz had for years been in command of a 
trading vessel which made frequent vojrages to the 
Wild G)ast ; for the early efforts of the Dutch were 
mainly devoted to trading. The factors who repre- 
sented Dutch enterprise on this coast usually made 
an engagement for three years and trafficked on the 
different rivers. Their supplies were furnished to 
them periodically by merchants from Holland who 
brought them fresh goods, often of a very tawdry 
character, which were bartered with the natives for 
valuable products — annotta, letter-wood, or to- 
bacco — which the Europeans thus obtained for 
almost nothing. Sir Walter Raleigh had met Jansz 
(or "Janson of Flushing," as he called him) at 
Cayenne in 1617 and said of him that he had ^'traded 
that place about a dussen years." No wonder that 
Jansz knew the tricks and could skilfully run himself 
on sandbars in the Amazon and so block the passage 
of the Pigeon that his own pinnace was enabled to 
go ahead and secure the best of the traffic. Pieter 
was a clever trader I 

It is needless to describe the stay of the Pigeon on Along the Amazon 
the Amazon except to say that the colonists spent 
about six weeks there exploring and trading. 

[37] 



Jesse de Forest 



Along the Anuaon This was not the first time colonists had gone to 

the Amazon or to the Wyapoko, which Jesse's party 
also escplored. As early as 1595 Sir Walter Raleigh 
had made his famous voyage in search of Eldorado, 
which was supposed to be far inland, back of Guiana. 
In 161 2 a Spaniard writing to his king told him, 
^'There are forty houses of English and Flemings in 
the settlement, which I report to be on the river 
Guyapoco, and • . • there be eighty men in it, and 
they occupy themselves in sowing tobacco and culti- 
vating it." The River Essequibo, in Guiana, was 
also from the first an attractive goal for the Dutch, 
and in 1616 a certain Captain Gromwegel from Zee- 
land arrived there with two ships and a galliote. He, 
it is said, ^' was the first man that took firme foteing 
on Guiana by the good liking of the natives." Grom- 
wegel or his son continued in conunand on the 
Essequibo for over fifty years. 

So it is less surprising to leam that our colonists 
found the Amazon rather crowded with English and 
Irish; there were indeed six such colonies on the 
river. There were constant rumors of belligerent 
Spanish ships near at hand, one Dutch vessel having 
recently been bumed to save it from capture by these 
enemies, and it was known that there were also 
Spanish settlements up the river at Para. 

On November 7th the Master asked the peres de 
families if these places pleased them, and they an- 
swered, "No! not for settling families there," adding 

[38] 



The Voyage to the New World 

that the Spaniards at Para, knowing that there were Akngih Anuaon 
families living below them on the river, would surely 
"visit them to their death/' ^ especially as the Span- 
iards would have the aid of the flux and reflux of 
the tide in coming down the river and in returning. 
They thought it better to seek a place along the coast 
from which these enemies, should they attack the 
Walloon colony, could not retum to the Amazon 
without going over as far as the Azores to pick up the 
wind. This would surely have a tendency to deter 
such attacks. 

The Master vaiiily tried to induce the voyagers to 
start a settlement of their own on the Amazon or to 
remain there with the English colonists. Failing in 
this plan, he merely "made a compact" with the 
English in the name of the West India Company, 
after which he gave them a feast and had the can- 
non fired as a salute. It is worthy of notice that it 
was always the Master who gave these feasts. 

On December 4th, after six weeks on the Amazon, 
our adventurers were back again at the North Cape, 
evidently bound for the Wyapoko River.* They ex- 
plored the coast in their pinnace, and as they ad- 
vanced, the scribe wrote full notes and drew outlines 
of the shores as seen from the ship. He also made 

^ Hartsinck, the historian, says that this is what the 
Spaniards did only two years later, killing off almost all the 
Dutch colonists on the Amazon. 

* This river is now called the Oyapok and to-day forms the 
boundary between French Guiana and northern Brazil. 

[39] 



Jesse de Forest 



Jiang the Amazon Very interesting maps of the rivers up which they ven- 
tured, showing in each case the course of the vessel, 
the soundings, and the places of anchorage. Many 
of these maps and views were beautifully colored.^ 

The Tragedy in Guiana 

Wyapoko Rher At last, on December i6th, the Pigeon reached the 

mouth of the Wyapoko River and on the seventeenth 
came to anchor there. Opposite the ship's anchorage 
was Carippo, one of the settlements of the Yaos In- 
dians, who received the colonists in a very friendly 
way and willingly furnished them with fresh provi- 
sions. This tribe occupied all the lower stretches of 
the river. Several of their rulers had had the advan- 
tage of visiting foreign countries; the "cacique" of 
Carippo had been in England for some years when he 
was a boy, and "Martin," as he was then called, had 
returned to his native land in 1608 with Robert 
Harcourt, a well-known English traveller. Harcourt 
lived at Carippo during his stay in the region, and 
he and Martin sometimes had good laughs together 
over the simplicity of the savages.^ 

Five or sk leagues up the river, probably at 
Wyapoko Village, there was another Indian cacique 
who had lived for some time at Hoom in Holland. 



^ Four of these maps, one of them colored, are shown in 
the Journal, pp. 169-279 of Volume II. 

* The Relation of a Voyage to Guiana. . . • Performed 
by Robert Harcourt. London, 1626. 



[ 40 ] 



The Tragedy in Guiana 



He spoke excellent Dutch and sent friendlymessages Wyapoko Rim 
to our Dutch colonists.^ No wonder, therefore, 
that the pdres de families felt almost as if they had 
arrived among friends I 

In the account of a voyager, Jean Mocquet, we 
hear of still another of these Indian travellers, a lad 
who was taken to France in 1604. He was to be the 
ruler of Yapoko (Wyapoko) when he became of age 
and was called "Yapoko." Meanwhile he insisted 
on going to France with Mocquet and there he had 
many interesting adventures, as may still be learned 
in the account of Mocquet's vojrages.* 

For ten days the colonists explored the river and 
its tributaries, finding much that pleased them and 
discovering many possibilities in the way of agri- 
culture. On December 27th, after their retum to 
the ship, the Master called the peres de families to- 
gether and formally asked them one by one " if they 
had found a place to their liking. They replied Yes ! 
and that they wished to come and live there with 
their families." 

Then followed a startling and wholly unexpected 
blow. The Master informed them that he had orders 
from the Directors of the West India Company to 
leave the peres de families there, with the exception 

^ Wassenaer, Nicolaes van. Historical Account, vol. vi, 
pp. 68-^0. 

^ Voyages en Afrique, Asie, Indes Orientales et Ocd- 
dentales. Faits par Jean Mocquet. Rouen, 1665. 



[41 ] 



Jesse de Forest 



fFyapoko Rmr of two, whoixi he should take back with him. They 

were all filled with consternation; not one of them 
had expected any such treatment. How were ar- 
rangements to be made for bringing over the families 
if only two of their number were allowed to retum 
to Holland! They all "began in divers ways to ex- 
cuse themselves/' like the guests who were invited to 
the "great feast" described in the Bible. 

Then the wise and self-sacrificing Captain said 
that he was willing to be one of those who should 
stay, if the Master would give to him, in the place of 
those peres de families who wished to retum, the 
same number of sailors. To this the Master agreed, 
and so, as the Journal sajrs, "there remained with 
our said Captain, Louis le Maire ^ and I (from among 

^ Probably the son of Jacob le Maire, a Huguenot of 
Cambray, who fled with his family to Leyden about 1585. He 
had nine sons, most of whom were prominent in important 
commercial enterprises in different parts of the world. 

Isaac, the eldest, became especially well known through 
his efforts to find a new passage to the Indies. The honor of 
being the first navigator to sail around Cape Horn fell to 
the lot of his eldest son, Jacques. The sea south of the cape 
the navigators thought was a strait and named it Strait le 
Maire. 

It seems probable that Louis le Maire was a younger 
brother of Isaac. He was presumably bom about 1580; and, 
if this date is correct, must have been five years old when his 
father came to Leyden and forty-three when he himself 
sailed with Jesse to Guiana. Being a member of a family of 
adventurers and seafarers, it is not surprising to find him one 
of the colonists who went to South America and to know 
that he was also one of the three who remained in Guiana 
after the other peres de families had returned. 



[42] 



The Tragedy in Guiana 



the families) and our gunner, four sailors and the fFyapoh Rwer 
surgeon's mate, nine persons in all/' The person who 
called himself ^^I" was, of course, at that time the 
writer of the manuscript, and in view of the evidence 
was presumably Jean Mousnier de la Montagne. 

On December 28th, according to the record in the 
Joumal of the departure of the peres de families, 
"they prepared everything which they were willing 
to give us" — a quantity of cocoa, which is still one 
of the staple products of Guiana, some axes and 
knives (number not given), a small cannon,^ and the 
pinnace which belonged to the Pigeon. A scanty 
outfit! 

Before the ship sailed, the little company who 
were to be left moved across the river to G>mmaribo, 
a high mountain on the seashore just to the west 
of the mouth of the river, "a fruitful and pleasant 
enough place," where their friends the Yaos had a 
settlement. 

There appears in the Joumal, dated only five days 
after the Master's first statement of the Company's 
orders, the meagre entry, "The first day of the year 
1624 our ship left to return to Holland." This was 
just six months after the departure of the colonists 
from Amsterdam. And it is all that we should now 
know about these brave men and their circum- 
stances and plans for the future at precisely the time 



^ Probably such as was then called a ''saker," in which was 
used a cartouche filled with stones or pieces of iron. 

[43] 



Jesse de Forest 



Wyapoko Rim when they were left by the ship, were it not for 

the invaluable Nicolaes van Wassenaer. In his His* 
torical Account, dated in the margin December, 
1623, he says, while telling of the Wyapoko, that the 
situation of that place might be learned from a letter 
sent in 1623 by some person then living there to a 
friend in Holland. He thus quotes the letter: ^ — 

Although the letter from our Captain suffices to 
inform you both of the success of our voyage and the 
excellence of this region where we live, I will not 
neglect to fulfill the promise which I made at my de- 
parture. Our voyage was very happily concluded; it 
took us three months and a week to complete it; six 
weeks were spent in England and seven on the ocean, 
and thereafter we visited the Amazones and arrived at 
Wyapoko, which is the place where we now live. We 
found very friendly natives here, who treated us well; 
the streams are convenient and the land overflows 
with everything that is needed to support human life : 
good bread and fine fish. A cake of Cassavi, measuring 
one and a half feet across and containing enough food 
for six or seven people, is sold here for a coral, worth a 
farthing; the bread is superior to the best that is found 
in Holland. A hog sells for two knives of a stiver 
apiece; a deer for a hatchet of one shilling; a rabbit and 
a partridge for two farthings ; a fish, as large as a cod- 
fish and of good flavor, for two farthings. Tree fruits 
have a much finer flavor than in the Netherlands. A 
man can live here on one crown a year better than on 

^ Wassenaer, Nicolaes van. Historical Account, vol. vi, 
pp. 68-70. 



[44] 



The Tragedy in Guiana 



one hundred crowns in the Netherlands. We expect fFyapoko Rxoer 
here the families from Holland; meanwhile, we shall 
diligently visit with our shallop the three rivers which 
flow into the gulf and through the adjoining country. 
We have advice from a captain of the savages, who 
at one time lived in Holland, at Hoorn, and who speaks 
good Dutch, five (Dutch) miles higher up in the coun- 
try, along this river, where no Christian has ever been; 
we shall go there also, in the hope of finding something 
curious, which will be communicated to you likewise. 
Done in Wyapoko, the 3i8t of December. 

Your friend, N. N.^ 

To this letter van Wassenaer added these words: 

The families whom they expect are people going 
thither from Leyden; it is a beautiful paradise, where 
one can live well without working and sufiiciently pro- 
tect himself against all attacks. It were desirable if 
many Christians went thither, in order that the light 
of salvation might be revealed to the heathen who are 
plunged in darkness. 

This well-situated land lies north of the equinoctial 
line; nothing is wanting there but the knowledge of 
God and his Son, who through the Holy Ghost bestows 
His blessings upon us. In this want the careful man- 
agement of the West India Company will undoubtedly 
provide. 

The letter from Wjrapoko could not have been 
written by Jesse, because "our Captain" is men- 
tioned in the text, and must therefore have been 



^ Nomen nescio. 

[45] 



Jesse de Forest 



iFyapoko Rwer ftom the hand of either La Montagne or le Maire 

— probably the former. How interesting it would be 
to us had "the letter from our Captain" been pre- 
served as well ! Might it not have been that the Cap- 
tain's letter, as well as the one just quoted, which 
was presumably from La Montagne, was addressed 
to Marie du Cloux, Jesse's wife? After La Mon- 
tague's retum to Leyden intimate relations were re- 
established with Jesse's family there, and to whom 
would van Wassenaer be more likely to tum for 
information about Jesse and his colonists than to 
Jesse's wife? 

Intense must have been the loneliness and yearn- 
ing with which the three marooned pioneers and 
their companions watched the Pigeon sail away, 
carrying back to Holland and their loved ones there 
so many of those who had been their close comrades 
for the last six months. 

Living as they did at the Indian village of Com- 
maribo, which was situated "on a fertile mountain" 
overlooking the sea, they could easily see any ship 
which approached, and it must have been with great 
rejoicing that five days later they welcomed Pieter 
Jansz, whom they had last seen on the Amazon. 
Certainly he had outwitted them in trading with the 
natives at that time, but at all events he was a friend 
from home. 

Our new settlers began ere long to explore the 
country in eamest, for which purpose they foimd the 

[46] 



The Tragedy in Guiana 



pinnace most useful. There were a number of native Wyapokokkit 
houses on the shores of the river, all of them with 
thatched roofs and built on high piles, as may be 
seen in the picture which was made of the Wyapoko. 
The houses were undoubtedly thus elevated because, 
as we are told, there were marshes above the mouth 
of the river which were continually flooded. This 
elevation must also have been useful as a protection 
from wild animals. 

The Yaos, the nearest Indian neighbors of the 
newcomers, continued to be very friendly, so that 
when a gpod site farther up the river was proposed 
later for the settlers, it was deemed wise for them to 
remain where they were on account of the great affec- 
tion which the Yaos had for them. In fact, so helpful 
were the natives usually that we read in an old 
account of the Amazon and the coast of Guiana: 
"The Christians take no pains nor labor for any- 
thing. The Indians house them, work for them and 
bring them victuals, receiving iron work or glass beads 
and such-like * contemptible things/ as reward." 

We have plenty of evidence that Jesse, at any 
rate, was no such idler. He seems to have been a 
true leader and to have had a ^xxl deal of influence 
with the natives. An interesting example of his suc- 
cess in dealing with them is told in the Joumal. It 
seems that the Caribs (of Cayenne) came on a visit 
to their friends the Yaos, and the next day there ap- 
peared, in canoes, a third tribe, the Aricoures from 

[47] 



Jesse de Forest 



Wyapoko River the Cassipourc Rivcf, who were deadly enemies to 

the Caribs. The Yaos, being on friendly terms with 
both parties, were much troubled, for a battle be- 
tween the hostile tribes seemed inevitable. Both 
sides prepared for action. Here was an opportunity 
for Jesse to exercise his powers as a peace-maker. 
He intervened, and with the aid of the Yaos pre- 
vailed upon the Caribs to desist, provided that the 
Aricoures should ask them to do so. The Journal 
continues: "Their ceremony was as follows: The 
Caribs obliged them [the Aricoures] to wait on the 
sea shore with their arms and [as the Caribs] fitted 
the arrow to the bow ready to let fly, the Aricoures 
took water and poured it on their heads. This done, 
the Caribs, throwing down their arms, rushed into 
the canoes of the others and embraced them." The 
Yaos, to celebrate a peace which had never before 
existed between Caribs and Aricoures, entertained 
them together for eight days. 

Indians, however, were not the only neighbors of 
the colonists. An Englishman who had three ne- 
groes working for him lived on a near-by river, and 
a countryman of their own from the Texel, for the 
price of four axes, sold them a fine tobacco field not 
far df . When the necessities of hunger required or 
they had time to spare, they went hunting or fishing. 
Wild hogs and deer were very plentiful, and they 
also shot rabbits, partridges, etc. The fish caught in 
the stream were abundant and of excellent quality. 

[48] 



The Tragedy in Guiana 



Jesse was indefatigable in exploring. He was al- Wyapoko Rmr 
ways making long excursions and spying out the 
land. Splendid situations for cities and fortifica- 
tions were found, and good tobacco fields, where the 
leaves of the plant were two and a half feet long 
and one foot broad. We have already said that Jesse 
was interested in all matters which pertained to the 
business of dyeing, and it was on these expeditions 
that he discovered the places especially advantage- 
ous for dyeing cotton and also various dye-woods, 
particularly oreillan,^ from the seeds of which a 
valuable dye was obtained. The dye itself was called 
annotto or amotto and produced a vivid red color 
known as "bastard scarlet." Perhaps the most 
valuable product from the point of view of the Dutch 
trader was the letter- or leopard- or speckle-wood.* 
This was a very remarkable wood of a rich brown 
color with curious black markings, as might be in- 
ferred from its names. It was as hard as ebony and 
weighed about eighty pounds to the square foot. It 
was then worth £30 or £40 sterling a ton, but it is 
now exceedingly rare. Near the mouth of the river, 
at both G>mmaribo and Carippo, valuable metals 
were found — golden marcasite* and other ores. 

^ Biza orellana. Orellana is the name that was at first 
given to the Amazon after its discoverer, Francisco Orellana. 

' Piratinera guianensis. 

* A species of prismatic Iron-pyrites. It was much used 
in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a substitute 
for precious stones, being cut and faceted like rose diamonds* 



[49] 



Jesse de Forest 



Wyapoko Rwer These Were indeed such treasures as the colonists 

had hoped to find when they first planned to emi- 
grate to the Wild Coast. 

In September Jesse visited the Caribs in their 
settlement at Cayenne. They received him very 
kindly, undoubtedly remembering hi^ good serv- 
ices at the time when he averted their fight with the 
Aricoures. 

Eight months had passed since the sailing of the 
Pigeon. Day followed day, each of them full of busi- 
ness, but on none did the ships arrive containing the 
families. Still, Jesse did not despair, and he was 
actively exploring when on October 13th "he had 
a sun stroke, as the sun was very strong that day." 
He fell in a faint in the canoe and thus they brought 
him back to his home. A severe fever ensued, and 
two days later, under advice from those who had 
lived in the country and understood its climate, 
they bled him. This gave him some relief, but as 
*soon as he felt a little better he became impatient 
to resume his activities, to "go on the sea again," 
and having done so he experienced a second sun- 
stroke with redoubled fever. Three days longer he 
suffered and then we find in the Journal this entry : 
"On the 22nd of October [1624] our said captain 
died, much regretted by the Christians and Indians 
who had taken a great liking to him." The same day 
his friends carried him to his grave, "as honorably 
as possible." After the burial each of them dis- 

[so] 



The Colonists' Return to Holland 

charged his gun three times over the grave, and they fFyapoko Rwer 
then ended the ceremonies by firing the cannon also. 
Thus we must leave Jesse the Walloon alone in his 
strange sepulchre, in the land of his hopes — the 
new world to which he had so ardently desired to 
lead a colony of his countrymen. He had planned, 
he had petitioned, he had waited. Finally he had 
set forth, not as he had wished but as he could. 
Here, too, he had been honorable and resourceful 
and self-sacrificing. Now the end had come — an 
end full of the irony of a great tragedy. 

The Colonists* Return to Holland 

Little remains to be told of the Guiana colony. 
With Jesse, their Captain, no longer there to lead 
them, various incidents occurred which show that 
they missed his judicious mind and steadying hand. 
One very wise decision they made about two months 
after Jesse's death. It was now almost a year since 
the Pigeon had left the little party of nine, including 
the three peres de families, in Guiana. The Master 
of the Pigeon had then promised that the Directors 
would soon send over the families, and so the peres 
had waited as patiently as they could. Now, how- 
ever, matters were becoming serious. Provisions 
and goods for barter were running low and there was 
no way to replace them. The Indians had been kind 
and helpful, but would they be as helpful when the 
supply of barter goods was exhausted ? Their own 

[SI ] 



Jesse de Forest 



Wyapoko Rker mcthods wcFC to hunt OX fish when they were hungry 

and to gather cotton, oreillan, and other products 
only when they really had some immediate use for 
them; but the Walloons needed more dependable 
aid than the Indians did and had to have more 
systematic plans for the future. They wrote : " Fear- 
ing that in time we should be obliged to force the 
Indians to give us food, we assembled the other 
Christians who were at Conunaribo to consult to- 
gether as to what we ought to do/' 

The assembled colonists decided without la dis- 
senting voice that they should take inunediate steps 
for departure while they still had stores on hand. 
This decision was reached on December 20, 1624. 
The most important thing to do was to reach the 
Caribbean Islands, where European ships touched 
frequently. On one of these ships they could prob- 
ably get passage to Holland, or, even if that were 
not possible, they could there await the arrival of 
some of the West India Company's vessels, which 
it was known often stopped at the islands. But how 
were the colonists to get to the Caribbean Islands ? 
The pinnace had seen much service and was by this 
time unseaworthy; and as for tools with which to 
make another, they had no saws — only axes and 
planes with which to build a seagoing craft ! 

Nevertheless, they were not to be daunted, and 
on January i, 1625, they left Commaribo to find a 
suitable place up the river for building their boat. 

[52] 



The Colonists* Return to Holland 

There were ten of these amateur shipwrights — six fFyapoh Rwer 

of the company that had been left by the Pigeon and 

four other "Christians'' who had joined them. They 

chose a place where the conditions were gpod for 

shipbuilding and natural provisions plentiful, and 

there they worked so industriously that in six weeks 

they had hewn " 150 planks 20 feet long and i foot 

wide, with prow, knees and other necessary things/' 

Then while some of the men gathered gum with 

which to pitch the boat, others stripped the bark 

off certain trees to make ropes. Meanwhile new 

sails were made from the men's hammocks; for 

necessity, as we know, is the mother of invention, 

and the cotton hammocks ("hamaka") which the 

Indian women made were wonderfully fine and 

strong. 

In the midst of this important work a number of 
the builders went off to help the Yaos fight their 
enemies; but we, for our part, shall not leave the 
shipbuilding, in which we are so much concemed, in 
order to follow them, for the tale of the war is quite 
another story, and besides that, had Jesse been 
there, he would certainly not have approved of the 
p^res de families risking their lives thus needlessly 
at a time when so much depended on each one.^ 

^ Other colonists had suffered seriously from aiding one 
Indian tribe against another, and the year that the Pigeon 
went to the Amazon some prosperous settlers there who 
had done this very thing had to be taken back to Holland 
through fear for thdr lives. 

[53] 



Jesse de Forest 



Wyapoko River Our colonists Came back from their warlike expedi- 
tion rather disgusted with the bloodthirsty natures 
of their friends the Yaos. 

After their retum the boat-building went bravely 
on. The keel was thirty feet long and the boat was 
to be thirty-six feet over all and twelve feet wide — 
about the proportions of the pinnace. When their 
boat was so far advanced that its builders hoped 
to launch it in three weeks, there suddenly ap- 
peared at their landing on May 23 rd a boat full of 
Dutchmen ! What was the meaning of this .? Had 
they indeed not been abandoned? It transpired 
that this was the pinnace of the Flying Dragon,^ 
a ship belonging to the Zeeland Chamber of the 
West India Company and commanded by Gelyn 
van Stapels of Flushing. 

Van Stapels (who was immediately called "our 
Master") told the boat-builders that he had been 
with Vice-Admiral Lucifer on the Amazon, where 
they had been engaged in that greatly heralded 
"Conquest of Brazil." But, although the conquest 
was not as yet fully accomplished, he had come, ac- 
cording to the orders of the West India Company, 
to take the party, left by the Pigeon sixteen months 
ago, back to the Fatherland if they so desired. This, 
as the colonists said, "gave us great joy.^ 



y> 



^ The scribe called it the Green Dragon, probably because 
of its color. It was a ship of ninety tons, with ten cast-iron 
guns and six sakers. 



[54] 



The Colonists* Return to Holland 

As the new boat was not ready for launching, a Wyapoko Rwer 
raft was made from some of the left-over planks. 
On this the boat-builders placed all their clothing 
and the irons from the dilapidated pinnace, and so 
it was floated down the river. At Commaribo they 
collected the remainder of their stores, and after, 
let us hope, bidding farewell to the friendly savages, 
they gladly set sail on May 28, 1625, from the Wy- 
apoko on the Flying Dragon. 

The ship sailed to the north along the coast to o^ hoard the Fly- 
join Admiral Lucifer, then awaiting them on the **^ ^^^* 
Essequibo River. As they passed Cayenne, their 
friends the Caribs brought them some of the pre- 
cious "letter-wood" and a turtle which weighed five 
hundred pounds. On August 3rd they reached 
Surinam, where they leamed that the Admiral was 
still at Essequibo, and thither van Stapels went for 
orders. The Admiral then decided to transfer his 
command to the Fljring Dragpn and to send his own 
ship, the Black Eagle, back to Holland with the 
colonists and all the accumulated merchandise which 
his people had derived from trade. 

After all this unloading and reloading had been Onboard the Black 
accomplished, our friends, with Gelyn van Stapels ^^^ 
still their Master, were put aboard the Black Eagle 
to retum to their homes. The two ships sailed north- 
ward together past Tobago and through the Lee- 
ward and Windward (or Caribbean) Islands. At 
St. Vincent Admiral Lucifer and the Flying Dragpn 

[ss] 



Jesse de Forest 



On board tki&aek parted from the Black Eagle, the latter pursuing her 
^ northerly course with the eager band of returning 

voyagers on board. 

September 24th found the Black Eagle to the 
east of Sombrera Island, and the note to this effect 
is the last entry in their record except the final one : 
"On the i6th of November [1625] we arrived at 
Flushing" — an entry which concluded with the 
devout ejaculation, "for which God be praised/' 





Ill 

JESSE DE FORESTS CHILDREN 

Preparing to Emigrate 

WHAT had been happening in Leyden liyden 
during the absence of Jesse de Forest's 
colonists? According to all accounts, 
Leyden had been by no means a ''goodly and pleas- 
ant citie" in which to dwell, for during 1624 and 
1625 the plague had raged with great violence. Poor 
Marie du Cloux with her five children no doubt had 
spent many anxious hours. Then, her disappoint- 
ment must have been hard to bear when in 1624 
eight of the peres de families retumed from Guiana, 
having left her husband in that far-away land. Her 
husband's brother, Gerard, was devoted to her, for 
he and Jesse had been very dose to each other and to 
each other's families. In fact, one of Jesse's last acts 
before leaving home had been to be a witness at the 
baptism of Gerard's son Jeremie. 

After Jesse's departure his privilege as "dyer in 
colors" in Leyden had been transferred to Gerard, 
the latter having stated to the magistrate on or 
about December 21, 1623, that his brother, Jesse de 
Forest, "who by virtue of your admission had dyed 
wools and camlets in this city, removed from here by 
the last ships which sailed from here for the West 

[57 1 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Leyden Indies ; and accordingly he the petitioner would be 
glad to be employed in dyeing in colors/' This re- 
quest was made nearly six months after Jesse had 
sailed for Guiana. It was formally granted on Jan- 
uary 4, 1624, and Gerard in consequence had a more 
important standing in the community. 

So matters progressed in Leyden until November 
16, 1625, when the Black Eagle arrived at Flushing 
with La Montague on board, Louis le Maire also, 
presumably, and the six members of the crew of the 
Pigeon who had remained with Jesse; but with no 
returning husband for Marie du Cloux, no success- 
ful founder of a Protestant Walloon colony in the 
New World ! After the return of the Black Eagle 
Marie du Cloux is referred to in the Leyden re- 
cords as a widow, and Jesse's name never appears 
again in church or city documents. 

La Montague undoubtedly did his best to com- 
fort her with stories of her husband's wisdom and 
courage. She was then living on the Voldersgraft, 
not far from the university; and as La Montague 
intended again to join that institution, he evidently 
found it convenient and pleasant to become an in- 
mate of her household. 

Here he met Rachel de Forest, the only one of 
Jesse's daughters who was then living at home. La 
Montague was at this time thirty-one years old and 
Rachel could not have been over seventeen, but he 
was still an homme a marier, as he had called himself 

[58] 



Preparing to Emigrate 



five years before when he signed the Round Robin. Uydtn 
Considerable as was the difference between their 
ages, there were forces at work so potent that they 
overcame this obstacle to a union, and on December 
12, 1626, at the Walloon church in Leyden, Rachel 
de Forest and Jean Mousnier de la Montagne were 
married. The bridegroom's witness was his " friend,'* 
Gerard de Forest, and Rachel's was her aunt, Hester 
de la Grange, Gerard's wife. The following year, 
1627, a son, Jolant, was bom to them. 

By this time the fever was once more upon La 
Montagne — the fever of the explorer and the pio- 
neer; he felt that he must again visit those tropical 
regions where his experiences, it would seem, had 
been such as to deter him from another venture. 
The object of his yearning was Tobago, one of the 
Windward Islands, northwest of Guiana, and then 
owned by the Dutch. La Montagne must have seen 
this island when the Black Eagle was on its way 
north from Guiana. 

As three of Jesse de Forest's children,^ Rachel 
among them, made their homes later in America, it 
is our purpose to follow the footsteps of each as far 
as is now possible. We must therefore tell of the 
setting forth of La Montagne and his young wife, 
possibly with little Jolant, on their voyage to the 
West Indies. They probably sailed on the Fortuyn, 



^ For genealogical notes of Jesse's children, see Appendix, 
p. 283. 

[59] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

On board tki For- Commanded by La Montagne's old friend, Gelyn 
"•^ van Stapeis, which left Zeeland on March 3, 1628, 

bound for the Island of Tobago.^ Besides the crew 
there were on board sixty-three colonists with "their 
implements." 

On May 4th the ship touched at St. Vincent, 
and here a rather curious incident occurred, which 
obliges us to pause for a little retrospect before 
continuing our tale. It will be remembered that it 
was the Zeeland Chamber of the West India Q>m- 
pany which had sent a ship to Guiana to bring back 
Jesse's colonists, should they so desire. La Mon- 
tague and le Maire thus finally reached Flushing in 
November, 1625, after the many privations of their 
prolonged and unfortunate stay on the Wyapoko. 
It is therefore rather surprising to leam that only a 
year later a certain Jan van Ryen obtained permis- 
sion from the same Zeeland Chamber to take out a 
band of colonists to the Wyapoko River. Admiral 
Lucifer was put in command of a fleet of three ships 
which were to carry the expedition, of which one 
was the Flying Dragon, with Gelyn van Stapels still 
in charge. They set sail on January 23, 1627.^ In 
due time they landed about eight miles above Car- 
ippo, on the Wyapoko River, possibly at Wyapoko 
Village, and Captain Jan van Ryen was left at the 

^ De Laet, Johannes. Annual Report of West India Com- 
pany, 1628. 
« Ibid. 

[60] 



Preparing to Emigrate 



new settlement as governor of his people. According On hoard the for- 
to the historian Hartsinck's account, however, "this '^^^ 
colony did not last long." The savages rose against 
the new settlers, killed their gpvemor (Jan van 
Ryen), and demolished their houses ; but, after some 
further trouble, the Indians became sufficiently paci- 
fied so that the "Christians" were able to build a few 
sloops in which to betake themselves elsewhere. 

When in 1628 the Fortuyn arrived at St. Vincent, 
the outward bound colonists found there two 
Dutchmen, the remnant of Jan van Ryen's unlucky 
band, who had succeeded in reaching this island. 
These men said that in their sloop there had been at 
first seven men, but that two had died at sea; and of 
the rest three, who were French, had in tum met 
their end when the sloop encountered savages from 
the Island of Grenada, who were on bad terms with 
the French. Thus the two Dutchmen at St. Vincent 
who had escaped were apparently the only sur- 
vivors of van Ryen's colony. 

Did La Montagne, hearing all this, feel that by 
mere chance he had escaped a like fate on the 
Wyapoko or did he consider that under the wise 
and considerate treatment of the natives by Jesse 
de Forest's colony such a catastrophe could not 
have occurred? As a matter of fact, the colony 
with which he was now emigrating to Tobago lasted 
only until 1637, when it was destroyed by Caribs 
and Spaniards! 

[ 61 ] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Tobago Rachel's heart must have sunk within her as she 
listened to the tales of these survivors of van Ryeri's 
settlement and she must have dreaded the life she 
was about to begin in her new home at Tobago. The 
climate of this island was said to be very trying to 
northerners, the reason, perhaps, why little Jolant 
(if indeed he had accompanied his parents) ''died 
young/* A little brother,^ Jesse, came in 1629 to take 
Jolant's place. Apparently he was bom in Tobago, 
for it was only in 163 1, two years later, when still 
another baby was expected, that Rachel, then only 
twenty-one years old, probably having found her 
previous experience too terrible, retumed with little 
Jesse to her Dutch home, her husband remaining in 
Tobago. Her third son, who was named Jean after 
his father, was bom in Leyden. La Montague re- 
tumed to this city, presumably in 1633, for here his 
first daughter, little Rachel, was bom the following 
year. 

LiyiUn The university still held attractions for La Mon- 
tague; on March 3, 1636, he joined it for the third 
time. But this tranquil student life was again to be 
intermpted, as we shall hear presently, for new 
schemes were soon proposed by Rachel's uncle, 
Gerard, and she, true to family traditions, was once 
more ready to join in projects for emigration. 

Rachel was not the only one of Jesse's children 
who early ventured across the seas. Her brother 

[62] 



Preparing to Emigrate 



Henry (Hcndrick de Forcest, as the Dutch called Leyden 
him), who was three years her elder, began his career 
as sailor and pioneer in 163 1, when he was twenty- 
five years old. In telling of Hcndrick's adventures 
we are fortunately able to avail ourselves of some 
newly published material, the "Van Rensselaer 
Bowier Manuscripts. " * In these papers, which com- 
prise Kiliaen van Rensselaer's ^ letter books from 
1634 to 1643, as well as other important documents, 
notably the Log of the Yacht Rensselaerswyck 
(1636-37), we find many items regarding Gerard 
de Forest and his nephew Hendrick, and an account 
of the voyage in 1636 of the Rensselaerswyck, in 
which Jesse de Forest's children — Hendrick, Rachel, 
and Isaack — sailed for New Amsterdam. 

To appreciate the situation in New Netherland at 
this time, it is necessary to give some further details 
regarding the affairs of the West India Company and 
its patroons. This company, as we have heard, ob- 
tained its charter in June, 1621, from the States 
General of the Netherlands. In June, 1629, it issued 
a "Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions" for "pa- 
troons, masters, or private persons who will plant 
any colonies in, and send cattle to. New Nether- 

^ Recently translated and edited in a most able manner by 
A. J. F. van Laer, the State Archivist at Albany, New York. 

' A prominent merchant at Amsterdam, a director of the 
West India Company, and a patroon of New Netherlands 
His colony, "Rensselaerswyck," was near Fort Orange 
(Albany, New York). 



[63] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 



Leyden land." Only those were to be called "patroons** 
who agreed to plant in New Netherland "a colony 
of fifty souls, upwards of fifteen years old, within the 
space of four years." Many privileges would be 
granted to them and excellent locations for settling, 
but they were warned that the Company reserved 
for itself the ''island of Manhattes." 

Kiliaen van Rensselaer was the most prominent of 
these patroons and the only one whose colony sur- 
vived even as long as until 1643. Van Rensselaer 
had business relations with Gerard de Forest and so 
it was probably through his imcle Gerard's influence 
that Hendrick de Forest came into the service first 
of the patroons and later of the West India Com- 
pany.* The earliest suggestion of such employment 
of which we have any record is in connection with 
the whaling industry at Swanendael, a tract of land 
on the west shore of the "bay of the South River" 
(Delaware Bay).* 

The history of the Swanendael colony is as fol- 
lows: There were five patroons interested in it, with 
three of whom — Kiliaen van Rensselaer, Captain 
David de Vries, and Johannes de Laet, the historian 
— we are already acquainted. These patroons, 
wishing to establish a settlement on the South River, 

^ See Hendrick's declaration, September 10, 1636, Appen- 
dix, p. 35^- 

' This bay was said to be full of whales, in proof of which it 
was alleged that all the Indians in the vicinity wore in their 
hair feathers made from whalebones. 

[64] 



Preparing to Emigrate 



sent thither on December 12, 1630, a large trading Leyden 
ship of three hundred tons burden, Den Walvis 
(The Whale), with twenty-eight colonists. The 
ship arrived on the South River early in 163 1, and 
the settlers, after building suitable fortifications, 
engaged in whaling and farming. ''Gilles Houset, 
sailor,'' was in charge. Unfortunately that same 
year, through a blunder on Houset's part, the In- 
dians got into the fort and ''all the people and the 
animals were,'* according to the record, "lamentably 
killed, whereby they [the patroons] suffered incalcul- 
able damage"! ^ One would think that the people 
who had been "lamentably killed" really suffered 
the "incalculable damage"! Everyone was horri- 
fied at this catastrophe. Kieft, afterward Director- 
General of New Netherland, in alluding to the fate 
of the Dutch settlers, spoke of the tragic experiment 
as one which had been unhappily " sealed with our 
blood." 

Meanwhile the patroons in Amsterdam, not know- Amsurdam 
ing of this sad event, were preparing to send The 
Whale on a second voyage to the South River, and 
on December 19, 163 1, engaged Hendrick de Forest 
at thirty guilders per month to gp to Swanendael and 
there take the place of Gilles Houset. The patroons 
were disappointed because the voyage of the previous 
year had not been a very paying one and this year 
they planned to send as an escort to The Whale, a 

^ Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., pp. 196, 240, and 241. 

[65] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Amsterdam yacht, Thc Little Squirrel (only seventy-five tons 
burden). A yacht was often sent in those days as an 
escort to a larger ship. The ships were usually laige 
and unwieldy, whereas the yachts were swift-mov- 
ing, easily managed vessels which could be readily 
used for attack or defense. In fact, the word Jagkl 
denoted swiftness or chasing. A yacht would there- 
fore be used as the defender of a large ship. In this 
particular instance the names of the ships rather 
amusingly indicate the difference in their size and 
agility. Captain de Vries was himself to take com- 
mand of both ship and yacht and was to act as pa- 
troon as well. 

On February 12th the new agreement was entered 
into by the patroons and the ships were made ready; 
but before they left the Texel news of the disaster at 
Swanendael was received and their departure was 
delayed for a time. This might well have been a re- 
, lief to Hendrick, but he was apparently not fright- 
ened. Men were always in danger in those days, if 
not from Indians, then from Spaniards or Turks or 
pirates or wild beasts. Like all other sailors or ad- 
venturers, he was ready cheerfully and carelessly to 
take chances. The Swanendael patroons felt differ- 
ently, however, and the ships did not sail for several 
months. Hendrick, however, considered himself to 
be definitely engaged, and so for five months he 
waited patiently. Then at last his chance came. In 
May the patroons determined to send over the ships, 

[66] 



Preparing to Emigrate 



after all, but these were first to visit the West India Amsterdam 
Islands and not to reach the South River until De- 
cember, when the whales would begin to come in. 
Accordingly it was decided that Hendrick de Forest 
should ''be employed for whatever he should be 
found capable of performing," but nothing further 
was said as to his compensation. 

The two ships. The Whale and The Little Squirrel, On hoard The 
sailed on May 24, 1632, de Vries in command, but ill ^^^ 
luck came to them at the very start. ^ While de Vries 
was resting, the large vessel, the "vierman," or 
trader, as he calls it, became unmanageable on the 
banks before Dunkirk and was ''tossed about on 
the banks for nearly 2 hours with great danger of 
losing the ship." Most of the crew jumped into the 
shallops, abandoning the vessel. The pilots of both 
ships, as de Vries says, "dared not leave me for 
shame, seeing that I remained aboard with eight or 
nine raw hands. . • • Those men," he added, "who 
had appeared fierce as lions, were the first to escape 
in the boat." At last, "bumping and tossing along," 
the ship got off, after which the crew again came 
aboard. The big trader was taken to Portsmouth for 
repairs, and it was late in June before she was ready 
again to set forth. 

Hendrick was at first made the "voorleezer" or 



* De Vries, David Pietersz. Voyages from Holland to 
America, 1632-1644 (1632, May 24). See also Van Rens* 
selaer Bowier MSS., p. 198. 



[67] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

On board The **person to offci Up praycFs," who, when there was 
^*^ no regular parson, "caused the people to assemble 

every Sunday to train them in the conmiandments, 
the psalms, the reading of the Holy Scriptures and 
Christian authors, in modesty, love and decency." 
A]voorleezer usually "tuned the psalm/' ^ 

Shortly after sailing it was found necessary to fill 
an even more important position than that of voor- 
leezer. The steward proved to be a drunkard, and 
Hendrick was appomted "conmiis of the victuals" 
in his place. Hendrick himself says that he, the 
deponent, "observed his duties faithfully with all 
diligence . . . taking his turn at the wheel . . . and 
observed his duty faithfully in everything with 
which he was charged." 

On September nth the ships dropped anchor in 
the roadstead of the Island of St. Martin. Appar- 
ently de Vries' object in coming to St. Martin had 
been the acquisition of a cargp of salt, and so all 
hands were set to work at the new duty of collecting 
it. Hendrick among the rest was kept busy "gping 
out with expeditions and mountmg guard . . . work- 
ing in the saltpans in his turn and having carted 
salt." On October 27th the cargp of salt was com- 
plete and de Vries prepared to sail for Nevis to take 
in wood and water. 

^ Alice Morse Earle called him a ^^ general utility man who 
was usually precentor, schoolmaster, bell ringer, sexton, 
grave digger, and even town clerk." 

[68] 



Westward Again 



Hendrick had now been under the orders of de On board The 
Vries for five months and eight days, and whether 
he did not like de Vries or found his combined duties 
of voorleezer and "commis of the victuals" too oner- 
ous, as well might be the case, he desired a change. 
One of the West India Ojmpany's ships happened to 
be in the harbor of St. Martin, and with the approval 
of de Vries, Hendrick left the employ of the Swanen- 
dael patroons and went into that of the West India 
Company. The subsequent shabby conduct of the 
patroons of Swanendael in regard to paying him cer- 
tainly justified his decision to leave their employ. 
They gave him nothing whatever for the more than 
ten months during most of which he had worked 
hard and faithfully in their interests, and he was 
obliged, years later, during his own absence, to get 
his uncle Gerard to sue them for the amount due 
him.^ 

After Hendrick left de Vries at St. Martin we hear 
nothing more about him until four years have 
elapsed. We presume, however, that he continued 
to follow the sea, for when we next find him, he is 
acting as mate on board a ship. 

Westward Again 

It was in 1636 that three of Jesse's children — Amsterdam 
Hendrick, Rachel, and Isaack — took the decisive 
step of leaving their Dutch home and seeking a 

^ Hendrick de Forest's Declaration. Appendix, p. 352. 

[69] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Amsterdam permanent one for themselves on the other side of 
the Atlantic. It was fifteen years since their father 
had planned his Virginia colony and thirteen since he 
had sailed on the fateful voyage to Guiana, but the 
two lads, who were only seventeen and seven years 
old when their father left them, knew even then that 
his fixed purpose had been the founding of a home 
for them in the New World and that to emigrate was 
the family destiny. 

Their opportxmity came in the fall of 1636 when 
Kiliaen van Rensselaer determined to send a ship to 
New Netherland, of which, as we know, he was one 
of the patroons. Previous to this time he had estab- 
lished a colony called Rensselaerswyck, on the Hud- 
son River at Fort Orange, and to it he now planned 
to send a ship of his own with settlers, cattle, and 
merchandise. But Kiliaen found that private ships 
were expensive luxuries ; in a certain letter he says : 
"As the equipment of this ship ran too high for me I 
granted Gerrit de foreest a half interest in it (aside 
from the goods and people of the colony)." ^ 

A formal contract was signed on August 8, 1636,* 
by Kiliaen van Rensselaer and Gerard de Forest. 
According to its terms each partner was to be di- 
rectly responsible for his half of the expenses, but 
each was also to be allowed to have a certain num- 

* Van RensseUer Bowier MSS.^ p. 328. 
^ Contract, Appendix, p. 350. Also Van Rensselaer Bow- 
ier MSS., letter, p. 323. 

[70] 



THE PATROON, KILIAEN VAN RENSSELAER 
«d by Dr. Howird Vin Ktrmehec of AUun}, i diiccl docen 



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ber of '* associates." A small ship was to be bought, Amsurdam 
anned, and equipped on joint account and a cargo 
was to be purchased on the same terms. In consid- 
eration of Kiliaen's conveying so many of his own 
colonists and so much merchandise for Renssel- 
aerswyck on the ship, Gerard and his associates 
were to.be allowed to share in Eliliaen's rights as 
" Patroon of New Netherland." ^ 

After arrival at the Manhattans a suitable ware- 
house was to be found wherein to store the mer- 
chandise. The goods received in exchange were to 
be stored in the same buildmg. If the crew discov- 
ered any '^ minerals, pearls, fisheries, salt pans or 
anything else ," a liberal reward was to be paid to 
the finder but the find was to belong to the joint 
owners of the vessel. The partnership was to con- 
tinue for a year. 

The ship purchased was not large; Kiliaen spoke 
of it usually as "my yacht" or "my little ship," and 
it was appropriately named Rensselaerswyck. The 
supercargo was Dirck Corssen Stam; the skipper, 
Jan Tiepkesz Schellinger; the mate and trader, 
Hendrick de Forest ; and there were also twelve men 

* These rights, "Freedoms," as they were called, would 
therefore allow Gerard to "sail and traffic along the entire 
coast from Florida to Terre-neuf and also ... to sail to the 
West Indies for timber, salt, and other merchandise in 
accordance with the Rules and Regulations" — that is, he 
would be obliged to pay to the West India Company five 
per cent on the value of these articles. 

[71 ] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Amsterdam in the crew. In this yacht Kiliaen planned to send, 
as he wrote to his agent, "38 persons whom I have 
engaged for my colony . • . among whom are six 
women & several children, while some still expect to 
give birth on the way." 

Gerard was now able to be of real service to his 
brother's children. It was very likely he who had 
suggested Hendrick for the position of mate on the 
Rensselaerswyck, although Hendrick, as we know, 
had previously been in the employ of the Swanen- 
dael patroons, of whom van Rensselaer was one. 
Uncle Gerard was also able to offer to other mem- 
bers of the family an opportunity to sail for New 
Amsterdam. Isaack de Forest availed himself of 
the chance, as did his sister Rachel, with her hus- 
band. La Montagne, and their three children. Jan,^ 
Jesse de Forest's eldest son, apparently did not care 
to gp. He was glad, however, to invest some of his 
savings in the enterprise and promised to provide 
£.^00. He was evidently one of Uncle Gerard's 
"associates." 

There were, we are told, fifty-two or fifty-three 
souls on the ship who must be "kept dry," ^ which 
number could not therefore have included the 
sailors. Q)nsequently, if Kiliaen van Rensselaer 

^ He had been married in 1633 to Maria Vermeulen and 
was now comfortably established as a merchant in Leyden, 
living on the Haerlemerstraet. 

* Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 360. 



[72] 



4 



Westward Again 



was sending thirty-eight settlers to Rensselaerswyck Amsterdam 
Gerard must have been responsible for the fourteen 
remaining passengers. There were six members of 
Gerard's own family aboard, not counting Hen- 
drick, the mate, and there were also on board two 
good practical men, by name Tobias Teimissen and 
Willem Fredericks Bout, whom he had engaged to 
aid his nephews in their new undertaking. Both men 
were natives of Leyden ; Teunissen, a wool-washer, 
was a man of middle age and a widower, while Bout 
was a lad of sixteen, who afterward became a car- 
penter. They both contracted to "serve said De 
Forest, or his agent, three successive years after 
arriving in New Netherland." 

The de Forests and La Montagne were to be 
"freemen" or "free merchants'* in New Nether- 
land, which meant that they were not bound to any 
special colony and could live where they pleased in 
New Netherland, provided they did not select a 
site near the property of a patroon. 

When it was really decided that the ship was to 
sail, great preparations were to be made and no 
time was to be lost. Kiliaen had to select the gpods 
for his cargo: merchandise of all kinds — dry goods, 
hardware, seeds, agricultural implements, tools, 
hamess, etc. — but by far the most expensive item 
was a "brandy still, weighing one hundred and 
fifteen pounds, with condensing coil,'* which cost 
fl.94.17. Perhaps this was sent as an economical 

[73] 



Jesse de Forest^s Children 

Amsuraam measure, as the brandy sent over earlier had ' 'wasted 
very much." All these stores, as well as the ship, 
were insured at six per cent, and the value of the 
ship with its equipment, cargp, and stores was great 
for those days. 

The ship with the equipment fl.5706 

The cargo 7840 

The food stores 1930 

Total 8.15476 (over $6000) 

Then the cost of board for the passengers had to 
be adjusted. It was set "at 6 stivers [12 cents] a day 
as long as the voyage shall last,'' although Kiliaen 
acknowledged that the actual cost would be less 
than five stivers. A long letter was written to Wouter 
van Twiller, Kiliaen's nephew, then the Director- 
General at New Amsterdam. Another letter was 
sent to Kiliaen's agent in New Netherland, in which 
he was especially urged to aid the freemen then be- 
ing sent out: "You will accommodate them as best 
you can and assist them to eam their bread with 
honor, and see that each one according to his thrift 
may prosper a little in order that others may not 
be discouraged but attracted thereby.'* * 

Finally the supercargo, Dirck Corssen, was care- 
fully instructed as to the landmg and storing of the 
goods at New Amsterdam. Kiliaen then owned a 
farm there, and the supercargo was told that he 
might put the goods in the bam on this farm or rent 

^ Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 327. 

[74] 



MODEL OF A TRADING SHIP OR YACHT, PROBABLY OF THE SAME TYPE 
AS THE RENSSELAERSWYCK, ABOUT 1636 

Owned by Sir Willum Van Hoinc, Moncml 



Westward Again 



a warehouse in which to store them^ or even, if neces* Amsterdam 
sary, erect a shed for them. 

So Kiliaen was full of business ; for him it was only 
business, but for poor Hendrick de Forest the voy- 
age meant separation and heartache as well I Less 
than three months before the day set for sailing, 
Hendrick, who apparently was then living in Am- 
sterdam, married a young girl there, Gertrude 
Bomstra by name, whose family came from Fries- 
land. The wedding had taken place on July i, 1636, 
and must have been a charming one ; for on this oc- 
casion there had been two brides and two bride- 
grooms, Hendrick and his cousin Crispin (Gerard's 
son) marrying two sisters on the same day, while 
Gerard acted as witness for both the young men. 
And now Hendrick was called upon to leave his young 
bride, for it had evidently been deemed wiser for her 
to wait in Amsterdam until her husband had prepared 
a home for her on the other side of the ocean. 

At last, on September 25, 1636, the ship set sail Onhoardih Rens- 
from Amsterdam.* The letters written at this time '^^^^^^ 
by the seafarers were full of pious ejaculations (such 
as "God preserve Rensselaers Wyck!"), which did 
not prevent their running immediately into very 
heavy weather. For six weeks they were tossed 
about in the Channel, while the log recorded such 
terrible items as the following: "The waves rose to 

^ Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 355. Log of the ship 
Rensselaerswyck. 



[7S] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Onboard tk^iUns' such an awful height that the waves and the sky 
seiaerswyc seemed One '* ; ** the beak of our ship was knocked to 

pieces*'; "the overhang above our rudder was 
knocked in"; "it seemed as if we would capsize or 
all our sails blow away"; and finally, "having few 
provisions for 52 or 53 souls, the number on board 
to keep dry, we could oppose it no longer. In the 
first place, on account of the sick people whose num- 
ber increased daily because of their hardships and, 
in the second place, because we feared that it might 
last a long time yet." 

The weather was so terrible that although the 
ship had already passed Cape Finisterre, France, it 
was decided, after a conference of the skipper, super- 
cargo, mate, and other advisers, to try to run into 
the harbor of Falmouth or Plymouth. They made 
an effort to get back of Cape Comwall, but, as the 
log says, "We got aground near the Cape and at 
twilight our foresail blew away, for we were obliged 
to carry all the sail we could, and our mainsheet 
broke and we allowed ourselves to be driven to the 
north with one sail, but in the second watch the 
mainsail had to be taken in too, for it was no longer 
possible to carry any sail." 

The following day the log reads: "We decided 
that we could do no better than to run to the an- 
chorage or land which we saw and thought must be 
a harbor. . . . Commending ourselves to God, we 
ran toward it with reefed foresail." 

[76] 



Westward Again 



The nest morning, November i6th, they found OnboardtkiiUns^ 
themselves in the harbor of Ilfracombe, Devon- ^^^"^^ 
shire. In the midst of all this stress a little boy was 
bom, who was appropriately named "Storm/* a 
name to which he afterwards added the words, 
''van der Zee/' 

The passengers, not having "enjoyed board** any 
more than they had enjoyed the storm, were glad 
enough to gp on shore, where, alas, further misfor- 
tune awaited them. The blacksmith's helper, whom 
the patroon was sending to the colony, quarrelled 
with his master and finally killed him; and although 
the officers of the ship immediately delivered the 
murderer to the authorities, the latter insisted on 
mooring the ship and then took away the rudder so 
that the Rensselaerswyck could not escape. This 
incident and the continued bad weather kept them 
in port eight additional weeks, and it was not until 
early in January that the wind became more favor- 
able and they had thoughts of setting forth once 
more. 

Meanwhile Kiliaen, at home in Holland, was much 
worried about his yacht, especially as day followed 
day and no news came. At first he said, "The 
danger is largely within the first two or four days. 
After that the danger is not so great.'* On October 
15th, he hoped that "our ship has already passed 
the channel.** He thought that the entire voyage 
would not last over three months. Little did he 

[77] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Onboard the lUns' know that it would be three and a half months after 
seUurswyck ^^ j^^^ Amsterdam before the ship would be able 

to escape from the horrors of the English Channel. 

Another thing gave Kiliaen much anxiety. Gerard 
would not or could not pay the remainder of his 
share of the expenses. He still owed over fl.4,000. 
At first Kiliaen spoke him fair and asked him to 
"please exert further diligence*'; then he entreated 
him. Sometimes he wrote day after day, but he was 
always polite, urging him at one time, ''Do not 
sleep on this but please satisfy me and answer at 
once." He was constantly dunned by his creditors ; 
as he said, ''I am ashamed." At another time he 
said, '' I am in much need of money on account of a 
large quantity of pearls which I have bought." On 
these he could get a rebate if he paid cash. Gerard 
paid part of his own share promptly, but his asso- 
ciates were the ones mainly at fault. His nephew 
Jan was especially delinquent; when a whole year 
had gone by, Jan still owed his fl.800 and Gerard 
owed a small balance. 

But we have left the seafarers waiting all too 
long, for when we last spoke of them the wind was 
becoming more favorable. On January 8, 1637, 
Stam, Schellinger, and de Forest wrote their last 
joint letter to the patroon. They gave him scanty 
news but said, ''Thank God, we are all of us still 
hale and hearty and agree well with one another." 
Schellinger wrote to his "Worthy, well, and dearly 

[78] 



CANNON FROM THE RENSSELAERSWYCK, WITH ITS SHIP-MADE 

GUN CARRIAGE 

Owned by Eugene Vin Ren»lier 



Westward Again 



beloved wife/' giving her even less news but plenti- OnboardtkeiUnt- 

ful gpod advice about the bringmg up of the children '^'^-^y^* 

— details which, it would seem, should have been 

already attended to. Hendrick also during this time 

of enforced idleness wrote letters to Gertrude Bom- 

stra, but she seems to have kept the contents to 

herself. 

Then, all things being ready, the yacht on Jan- 
uary 9th again set sail, but it took them two months 
more to reach their destination. During the voyage 
to the southward the crew and perhaps the pas- 
sengers also occupied themselves with making gun- 
carriages for four of the cannon which they carried 
on board. One of these cannon with its ship-made 
gun-carriage was afterward taken to Rensselaers- 
wyck and is still in the possession of the patroon's 
descendants. 

In the vicinity of Madeira an evidently hostile 
sail came in sight, but the voyagers, conscious of 
their four cannon, felt no alarm. They cleared away 
the chests and cows 'Vith which the deck was en- 
cumbered " — where did they put the chests and 
especially the cows ? — after which preparation to 
meet the enemy they "waited for him with furled 
sails." The vessel tumed out to be a " Frenchman," 
whose captain declared that he came from La 
Rochelle and was "looking for good booty." Cap- 
tain Schellinger answered that they were " also look- 
ing for a good prize," and for about an hour the 

[79] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

On board ihiJUnt" two ships remained, as it were, glaring at each 
seioiTswyck other; then, although the Frenchman had four iron 

cannon and two of other metal while the Rens- 
selaerswyck had but four in all, the former '^ headed 
for the west when each of us fired a salute/' 

The following day, January 25th, Rachel La 
Montague's little daughter, Marie, was bom — a 
new pilgrim seeking a home in the New World. 

Nothing very exciting happened during the re- 
mainder of the voyage. According to the usual cus- 
tom, the ship sailed as far south as the Canaries be- 
fore tuming to the west, in order to catch the trade 
winds. During the entire voyage the navigator cal- 
culated time by the hour-glass, "four glasses" rep- 
resenting two hours — not a very accurate method, 
one would think. 

At length, on March ist, the Rensselaerswyck, 
surrounded by an escort of whales, " some ten or 
twenty swinmiing for at least two hours about our 
ship," approached her destination. On the same day 
the skipperanchored "behind Godjoi's Point "(Sandy 
Hook) and entered in the log the fervent exclama- 
tion, "God be praised for his mercy." The wind not 
being favorable, the vessel remained where it was 
for a few days and the ship's boat took some of 
the passengers ashore "for the purpose of shooting 
geese." On March 5, 1637, the ship anchored off 
"Manatans." 

[80] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

The Muscoota Bouweries 

Our voyagers had now arrived at the port where Nm NtOmiani 
they wished to be, and after so long a period of en- 
forced idleness a time of great activity ensued. 
Every one was in a bustle, for each had something of 
immediate importance to attend to. The women 
and children were landed, the marketable goods 
were stored, the empty water-casks were brought 
ashore for re-filling, the babies bom during the voy- 
age (little Marie La Montagne among the rest) were 
baptized, and, last but not least, the widow of the 
smith who had been murdered at Ilfracombe three 
months before was married to Arent Steffeniersz, 
a fellow-voyager who was also one of the patroon's 
colonists. Since Hendrick de Forest was trader or 
merchant as well as mate, to him was entrusted the 
sale of all the gpods not needed at Rensselaerswyck, 
which Schellinger had brought on shore and de- 
posited in a house. The yacht, after all the business 
connected with it was completed, sailed up the river 
to Rensselaerswyck with the patroon's colonists and 
was gone nearly three months.* 

Meanwhile Hendrick and Isaack, the former now 
thirty-one years old and the latter ten years his 
junior, lost no time in seeking a favorable situation 
for a plantation. They came prepared to earn their 
living by raising tobacco, for which it was said the 

* Van Rensselaer Bowicr MSS., pp. 375-379. 

[81 ] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

NncNeAitiand soil of Manhattan Island ''on account of its great 

fertility was considered well adapted." A stretch of 
rich bottom land in the northern part of the island 
was soon selected. This tract was called "Mus- 
coota" ^ (the flat land) by the Indians, who had 
doubtless already cleared and cultivated a consider- 
able part of it. 

Hendrick promptly secured from Director van 
Twiller a "grant" * of one hundred morgens of land 
(about two hundred acres) on this fertile plain, ex- 
tending "between the hills and the kill"; that is, to 
give approximate boundaries, from the high land 
we know as Momingside Heights to a little stream 
now called Harlem Creek, which rose not far from 
the present Mount Morris Park and ran in a south- 
erly and easterly direction until it emptied into the 
Harlem River. The northern boundary of the tract 
was at about 124th Street, while on the south it 
included the high land in Central Park at about 
109th Street. Near this latter boundary was a copi- 

^ For a brief note on Muscoota see Documents Relative 
to the Colonial History of the State of New York, procured 
in Holland, England, and France by J. R. Brodhead. Vols. 
i~x and index volume edited by £. B. O'Callaghan. Vols, 
xii-xiv edited by B. Femow. Albany, 1855-61 and 1877- 
83 [commonly called New York Colonial Documents], vol. 

XIV, p. II. 

^ A verbal grant was all that was necessary in the very 
earliest days, but settlers were led to expect that a ground 
brief would be given to them after they had held and im- 
proved their land for two vcars. The period was often, how- 
ever, much longer. 

[82] 



Ml 



ill 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

ous springy or^ as the Dutch called it, ''fonte3m/' Nm Netiurimui 
which still flows almost as it did then, a rippling 
brook with little waterfalls, until it empties into 
Harlem Mere in the northem part of the park. 

To build a house on such property was not an easy 
matter in 1637. The land had first to be cleared and 
many logs prepared, for not only were they to be 
used for the frame of the house and bam, but also for 
a heavy stockade or palisade which must be erected 
to surround all the buildings. This was to serve as a 
protection from wild beasts for the settlers and their 
live stock, and also as a defense against the Indians, 
whose trail ran near the house. A great deal of ardu- 
ous labor was involved, but for this it was possible 
to secure the services of the/Verkbaas" (workboss) 
and certain slaves who were owned and maintained 
in New Amsterdam by the West India Company and 
let out for hire to the inhabitants. Indeed, there is 
little doubt that the werkbaas was so employed on 
Hendrick's land, for in a deposition of March 22, 
1639, conceming buildings erected and work done in 
New Netherland through official aid during van 
Twiller's time, there is the statement, "Much work 
has been done at la Montague's Bouwery.'' ^ Be- 
sides this it was afterward shown that the werkbaas 
knew all about Hendrick's original contract with 
Tobias Teunissen and Willem Bout, who undoubt- 
edly helped in the cultivation of Hendrick's bouwery 

^ La Montagne owned this tract later. 

[83] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Nm Neiheriand and in the building of his house; for Tobias was a 

good practical farmer and Willem, we know, was an 
excellent carpenter. 

The house is said to have been "42 feet long, 18 
feet wide with 2 doors." ^ This description (the 
original of which was destroyed in the fire that dam- 
aged the State Capitol at Albany in 191 1) is taken 
from O'Callaghan's translation, which is not always 
quite accurate. The Dutch farmhouse of that period 
was a combination of dwelling-house in front and 
bam in the rear. Judging from O'Callaghan's trans- 
lations of the specifications of other houses, there is 
very little doubt that the term which he translates 
as "doors** was in the original text "uytlaeten,** 
literally outlets or extensions. This expression does 
not refer to doors but to long narrow compartments, 
usually extending the full length of the bam between 
the outer walls and the posts which supported the 
roof, as indicated in the plan below. The width, 
eighteen feet, refers to the open floor in the centre, 
which was used for threshing. The spaces on the 
sides, the "uytlaeten," were for stabling purposes, 
and the open lofts above them for fodder. 

The house had a thatched roof made of reeds, for 
the construction of which nine hundred bundles were 
used; it had also a brick chimney, which it took 
" Dirck the mason" ten days to build. A brick chim- 
ney was an unusual luxury. The early chimneys 

1 N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 59. 

[84] 




Ltrge 






^hfp 


o 


door4. 


o 






o 
o 


Threshing' 
yteor 


o 
o 






o 


m 


o 




Morjt^ 




I>oor 








■ • 


"*^^^ 


I 
• 




U U ' 






CAtmney 






• 

• 

• 
1 


1 

tdjbr dweltmg purposes 

• 
• 




• 

• 
• 

1 

• 




■ 

1 
• 
1 
1 
i 





DRAWINGS OF HBNDRICK's FARMHOUSE AS IT MUST 
ORIGINALLY HAVB BBBN BUILT 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New Netheriand wcFC frequently " CHtted " ; in other words, a square 

chimney was made of short logs crossed at the 
comers, all the interstices of which were filled in and 
covered with clay. Of course such a method of con- 
struction was the cause of many fires. 

Hendrick's house may have been "half timbered" ; 
that is, the frame built of heavy timbers and the wall 
spaces between them filled in with clay or stone. On 
the other hand, it is not unlikely that it was clap- 
boarded. Many farmhouses were so built even in 
those early days. After the carpenters had put up 
the frame, the farmers themselves would often nail 
on the clapboards. Jasper Donckaerts, who travelled 
through this part of New Netheriand in 1679, gives 
a graphic even if a cheerless account of the clap- 
boarded houses, as follows : — 

"The dwellings are so wretchedly constructed, 
that if you do not keep so close to the fire as almost 
to bum yourself you cannot keep warm, for the wind 
blows through them everywhere. Most of the English, 
and many others, have their houses made of noth- 
ing but clapboards, as they call them here, in this 
manner: they first make a wooden frame, the same 
as they do in Westphalia and at Altona, but not so 
strong; they then split the boards of clapwood, so 
that they are like cooper's pipe staves, except they 
are not bent. These are made very thiri, with a large 
knife, so that the thickest end is about a pinck (little 
finger) thick, and the other is made sharp, like the 

[86] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

edge of a knife. They are about 5 or 6 feet long Nm Nithriand 

and are nailed on the outside of the frame, with the 

ends lapped over each other. They are not usually 

laid so close together, as to prevent you from sticking 

a finger between them in consequence either of their 

not being well joined or the boards being crooked. 

When it is cold and windy the best people plaster 

them with clay. Such are most all of the English 

houses in this country, except those they have which 

were built by people of other nations." ^ 

The house for curing tobacco on Hendrick's 
land was put up by an English carpenter, John 
Merris (Morris?), and it could not have been very 
well built, for it blew down four years later, to the 
great injury of the tobacco which it contained.* 
This goes to prove Donckaerts' statement about the 
workmanship of the English carpenters. 

Hendrick had other duties besides those connected 
with his bouwery, for he was still the mate and trader 
of the Rensselacrswyck. When he had been only 
three months on shore, the yacht retumed from her 
cruise up the* river and he was summoned to sail with 
her for the English colonies in Virginia. Isaack, only 
twenty-one years old, was too young to have all the 
responsibility of the bouwery laid upon his shoulders 

* Journal of Jasper Donckaerts and Peter Sluyter, 1679- 
80. Memoirs Long Island Historical Society, vol. i, p. 173. 

' Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 78; Council Minutes, vol. 
IV, p. no. 

[87] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New Neiheriand and SO his brother-in-law, La Montagne/ was sent 

for and given command at Muscoota. 

Had it not been for this unfortunate voyage, on 
which Hendrick contracted a fatal disease, he, not 
his younger brother Isaack, would probably have be- 
come the founder of the de Forest family ift America. 

The Rensselaerswyck set sail on June 13 th and 
arrived on the twenty-ninth at Smith's Island, east 
of Cape Qiarles, Virginia. On that same day Hen- 
drick was sent on shore "to further the work." 
While the yacht was still at Cape Charles a passing 
vessel spoke them and was told that "they hoped to 
follow soon and had sold most of their goods and 
sold them well, but that they must first call on the 
English at the north and also stop in New Nether- 
land.'' * Poor Hendrick little knew that his "stop" 
in New Netherland was to be a final one. 

The coast of Virginia was at that time exceedingly 
unhealthful during the months of June, July, and 
August. Captain de Vries wrote of it: "They at- 
tribute the mortality in this land ... to the variable- 
ness of the climate ; one hour it is so hot, at this sea- 
son, that a man cannot endure the heat, the next 
hour the wind shifts to the northwest with such 

^ Jean Mousnier de la Montagne from the time of his 
arrival in New Netheriand signed himself simply La Mon- 
tagne, though he was often called Johannes La Montagne or 
Montanye and the name was frequently pronounced accord- 
ing to the latter spelling. 

' Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 349. 

[88] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

freshness that he has to put on an overcoat." ^ Ntw Netheriani 
De Vries said that when he arrived there in 1635 he 
found thirty-six large English ships at Blank Point 
and fifteen of the thirty-six captains were already 
dead in consequence of their coming too early to the 
English Virginias. Another traveller in 1637 wrote: 
"It is certain that Virginia being lowest on the sea is 
most unhealthy, where they [die] by thousands some- 
times, of the epidemical disease of the country • . . 
all those who come into the country must undergo 
this sickness without escape." 

This "epidemical disease" Hendrick undoubtedly 
contracted, and although he and the rest of the ship's 
company reached New Amsterdam on July i6th, it 
was only ten days later, on July 26, 1637, that Cap- 
tain Schellinger with pitiful brevity made the fol- 
lowing entry in his log: "About two o'clock in the 
moming my mate heindrick de freest died." * 

La Montagne made arrangements for the funeral, 
which took place the next day, undoubtedly in the 
wooden church which had already been built on the 
"Strand" of the East River. Good Domine Bo- 
gardus ' officiated. It seems probable that the 

^ De Vries, Capt. David Pietersz. Voyages from Hol- 
land to America 1632-1644, from Narratives of New 
Netherland, edited by J. Franklin Jameson, p. 193. 

* Van Rensselaer Bowier MSS., p. 382. 

• He had matriculated at the Leyden University in 1627 
and may therefore have been a fellow-student with La Mon- 
tagne. In 1633 he had come to New Amsterdam with 
Director Wouter van TwiUer. 

[89] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

NewNiduriand Domine was an old friend of the family; it must 

therefore have been a comfort to have him with them 
at such a time. According to custom, for each pall- 
bearer a silver spoon was provided by La Montagne 
(at his own cost) as a memento of the deceased ; un- 
limited beer was drunk and pipes were smoked ; and 
then the scene closed over Hendrick de Forest. 

Hendrick, like his father, had been eager to seek 
his fortime in the New World, and, like him, had 
there met nothing but disaster and death. Each left 
a widow in the old Dutch home who for months did 
not know of her bereavement. 

It was fortunate that La Montagne was on hand 
to take charge of Hendrick's affairs. He was a man 
of considerable executive ability, quite equal to the 
responsibility of finishing Hendrick's house and car- 
ing for his property. He was in charge of the 
bouwery from July 3, 1637, to June 22, 1638.^ 
Until the house was sufficiently finished to be habit- 
able, he boarded with his nearest neighbor, Jacob 
van Curler. Under La Montagne's direction the 
farm was cultivated in a satisfactory manner; the 
first year's tobacco crop (two hundred pounds) sold 
for fl.i35. * After his brother-in-law's death La 
Montagne disposed of Hendrick's personal belong- 

* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 57. For this item and 
those which follow see La Montagne's Specification, July 23, 
1638. 

^ The words florin and guilder were used interchange- 
ably. 

[90] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

ings for fl. 1 59, keeping for himself only *' a pair of old Ntw NetkiHand 
shoes and a pair of slippers/' valued at four florins. 

As winter drew near, La Montagne laid in a stock 
of provisions — wheat, maize from Virginia, rye, a 
firkin of butter, dried peas, 1 1 gallons of vinegar, 
I gallon of oil, 9 gallons of train oil, pumpkins, 12 
pounds of candles, half pound of pepper, i hogshead 
of meal, i schepel of groats, 53 pounds of pork, and 
30 pounds of beef. From "Jan the fisherman" he 
bought not only fish (sometimes as many as one hun- 
dred and ten at a time) and salted eels, but also 
"shirts and other necessaries," ropes, lead, shot, and 
powder. Tobias shot a deer for them now and then, 
and, finding that for fresh meat they must depend 
largely on their own exertions. La Montagne got 
Kiliaen van Rensselaer to send him over a "long 
gun. 

A yawl was one of the treasured possessions at 
Muscoota — a most necessary one, inasmuch as it 
fumished the easiest way of reaching New Amster- 
dam and was the only means by which the settlers 
could transport their crops. One day the yawl 
drifted away and great was the constemation of the 
family. They had a smaller boat built to replace it, 
but were more than ready to give fl.io (^) to the 
Indian who found and retumed the "lost yawL^ 
Another boat which they owned was a " weyschuyt 
or meadow boat, which was used for bringing in the 
salt hay. 

[91 ] 



if 

99 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New Nithetiand The house WES probably finished in January, and 

Rachel was installed therein with her little Marie 
and the three older children, her husband, her 
brother Isaack, and their indispensable aids, Tobias 
and Willem. The work being too heavy for Rachel, 
a servant, Ariaen, was employed for fl. 12.50 (^5) a 
month. It would be pleasant could we have a 
glimpse of Rachel in her new home. The child of 
Jesse the Dyer may well have succeeded in making 
her home in the wildemess pretty and attractive. 

The author of " French Blood in America," * in a 
chapter on the life of the Huguenots in the New 
World says : — 

The Huguenot refugees . • . were gentle, trained in 
many arts, and possessed of the keen perceptions, the 
courtesy, and the easy adaptability of their race. . . . 

Tradition says that the first to utilize the remnants 
of worn-out garments by cutting them into strips and 
weaving them into carpets were the French. The rag 
carpet was in its day an advance agent of comfort 
and culture. . . . Among the earliest importations of the 
French settlers were the spinning wheels and looms of 
better quality than were previously known here. . . . 

Where the English and Dutch dyed linen yam of 
heavy quality and wove it into ugly stripes and checks 
for bed and window curtains, the French used either 
white linen or that with but one color, dainty shades 
of light blue or dusky green or a subdued gold colour 
made by dyes of which they had brought the secret 
with them being preferred. . . . 

^ Fosdick, Lucian J. French Blood in America, pp. 406 ff. 

[9^ 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

The cultivated taste and the dainty arts brought NewNHkirUmd 
from France made the homes of the Huguenots much 
more attractive in appearance than those of the other 
colonists, even though the latter might have far more 
wealth. 

While matters were thus progressing favorably for 
our settlers in the New World, we must not forget 
Gertrude Bomstra, the bride whom Hendrick had 
left in Amsterdam when he sailed and who was still 
in Holland when the news of his death reached her. 
We know that she was visiting in Leyden as late as 
August, 1637, and we have no record of her crossing 
the sea during the time of her widowhood. 

Before long, however, a new actor appeared upon 
the scene — a young man named Andries Hudde, 
whohad been in New Amsterdam since 1629 and who 
had occupied a prominent position as a member of 
Director van Twiller's council.^ He owned several 
valuable pieces of real estate and was a man of con- 
siderable importance. Andries wooed young Ger- 
trude even before her year of widowhood was over, 
though where the wooing took place we do not 
know. Hudde may have gone to Amsterdam for the 
purpose, as Gertrude was still living there. At all 
events, in June, 1638, Hudde was evidently already 
betrothed to Gertrude ; for as her representative he 
was back again in New Amsterdam claiming the 
estate of her former husband, Hendrick. Hudde 

^ O'Callaghan, E. B. Register of New Netherland, p. 12. 

[93] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New Nfthriand applied to Director-General Kieft for a ground brief 

or patent for the bouwery, the land grant having 
heretofore, as we know, been merely a verbal one. 
This must have been promised, for La Montague on 
June 22nd paid off the men who had been employed 
at the bouwery, also Ariaen, the servant, and then 
left himself. Hudde, anxious to retum to his Ger- 
trude, did not even wait for his official ground brief 
before he made a contract on July loth with one 
Hans Hansen to cultivate tobacco on the bouwery 
on shares. He promised Hansen to send him six or 
eight farm laborers with suitable tools "by the first 
opportunity of any vessel leaving a port of Hol- 
land.'' ^ 

On July 20, 1638, Director Kieft signed the ground 
brief ^ which gave to Andries Hudde the two hun- 
dred acres which had belonged to Hendrick de 
Forest. This was, so far as is now known, the first 
legal conveyance of any land on Manhattan — in 
fact, it was only about July ist of that year that 
the authorities had decided to give such titles. 
The document makes no mention of Gertrude, the 
widow, but Dutch betrothals were almost as binding 
as marriages, and Hudde must have received the 
patent as her future husband, for it says that he 
could dispose of the property " in like manner as he 
might do with his own lands." The only stipula- 
tion in this patent is that Hudde and his successors 

^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xrv, p. ii. 

[ 94 ] 



The Muscoota Bouwcries 



« 

4 
t 



shall acknowledge their High Mightinesses, the NmNftkerUmd 
managers ^ aforesaid, as their Sovereign Lords and 
Patroons, and shall render at the end of each ten 
years after the actual settlement and cultivation of 
the land, the just tenth part of the products with 
which God may bless the soil, and from this time 
forth annually for the house and lot, deliver a pair of 
capons to the Director for the Holidays." * 

Before Hudde sailed, Domine Bogardus was given 
a power of attomey for Gertrude.' It was after 
that, on July 23 rd, that La Montague presented an 
account or "Specification" for all his receipts and 
expenditures at the bouwery. Hudde did not settle 
this account before he left; perhaps he had already 
sailed before it was presented, though it was only 
three days since he had received his ground brief. 
It was Domine Bogardus who by virtue of his power 
of attomey "examined and accepted" La Mon- 
tague's account, and then the original was "sent to 
the Fatherland," presumably to Gertrude. La Mon- 
tague's claim was for 680 guilders. It is a pity that 
Hudde did not settle the account before leaving, as 
we shall see presently, but he was evidently in need 
of money himself at that time, for just before sailing 
he put a mortgage on a Long Island farm which 
belonged to him. 



* Directors of the West India Company. 

* N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, p. I2, 
» N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 19. 

[95] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

NewNeihnUmi La Montagne with the money due him for his 

expenditure on the bouwery still unpaid, did nothing 
until September i6th. Then he took proceedings 
against the Domine, saying: "Whereas the Deft, has 
a power of attomey from Geertruyt Bomstra, 
widow of the late Hendrick de Foreest, the Pltff's 
brother-in-law, to realize the property and collect 
the debts of the said Foreest, the Pltff. demands 
that the Deft, shall take possession of the house to- 
gether with the cattle and property of the planta- 
tion, on condition that the Pltff. be paid by the 
Deft, whatever balance is due him by de Foreest, 
according to the* account thereof in existence." ^ 

Two weeks later the Court ordered that "the 
effects belonging to Hendrick de Foreest, deceased, 
or his heirs " should be " sold publicly in Fort Am- 
sterdam to the highest bidder for the benefit of 
the widow" * and that from the proceeds La Mon- 
tagne should be repaid his 680 guilders. The auc- 
tion was held on October 7th and La Montagne 
bought in the property for 1,800 guilders. This left 
him 1,120 guilders in debt to the estate. 

The purchase included the land and the dwelling- 
house with its surrounding palisades, also "two 
milch cows; i heifer 2 years old; i bull of i year; 
half a bull calf of this year ; 2 old goats ; half of a little 
male kid of this year; yi a kid of this year; 6 hens 

* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 19. 

* Ibid., vol. rv, p. 20. 

[96] 



'II"" ! "" ! "" !."" ! ""!^"^ 



!;»^si;t^i 



Hud* 



■R 



MAP OF NEW HARLEM 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

and 2 cocks, with about 20 chickens ; 4 guns, good Ntw NHheriand 
and bad ; i kettle ; i chum ; 4 axes, good and bad ; 6 
pickaxes; 2 siths ; 2 scjrthes; 2 iron forks; one fourth 
of 600 tobacco plants and i tobacco house ; one half 
of the grain of one morgen of land; one wey- 
schuyt." ^ A gpod idea of the farm equipment of 
the early settlers may be gained from this list. 

The new owner promptly took possession and 
named the place "Vredendal" (quiet or peaceful 
dale), a name by which it was long called although 
its history for many subsequent years was anjrthing 
but peaceful. The wonderful spring was then given 
a name, "Montanye's fonteyn," * by which it was 
known for a long time. 

Tobias and WiUem saw in this chai|ge of mas- 
ters a possible opportunity for release from their 
"bounden service," and so they brought the matter 
before the court, claiming that their contract had 
been made with Gerard de Forest and not with his 
nephew. La Montagne thereupon showed that he 
had "power and authority" ' from Gerard to act 
as his agent, and Tobias and Willem had to agree 
to serve out their **3 successive years." 

* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 59. 

A ''sith" was a sickle, usually called a Hainaut or Flem- 
ish scythe. A ^^weyschuyt'' was a meadow boat, such as 
was used for bringing in the salt hay. 

' Riker, James. History of Harlem, Revised Edition, pp. 
134, 182. 

• N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. iv, p. 22. 

[97] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New NftJuriand Now that Dr. La Montagne (for we must not for- 
get that he was a physician) has settled down con- 
tentedly in his Quiet Dale, we must learn a little 
more about his personal affairs. Soon after his ar- 
rival he had become a prominent figure in New Am- 
sterdam. As early as 1637 we find his name on a list 
of physicians and surgeons there. Before this date 
the doctors available in the community had been 
mainly the " ships' surgeons who practiced on shore 
while their vessels lay in port." ^ 

As yet La Montagne had taken no active part in 
public affairs, but the time was not far off when he 
was to occupy a prominent position. Director van 
Twiller's methods of government were not satis- 
factory to the West India Company and he was 
recalled to Holland. The new Director-General, 
Willem Kieft, arrived at New Amsterdam in March, 
1638. Being allowed to select his own councillors, 

^ The following extract from the Dutch records is amus- 
ing. "On the petition of the Chirurgeons of New Amster- 
dam, that none but they alone be allowed to shave; the 
Director and Council understand that Shaving doth not 
appertain exclusively to Chirurgery, but is an appendix 
thereunto; that no man can be prevented operating on him- 
self, nor to do another this friendly act, provided it be 
through courtesy and not for gain, which is hereby forbid- 
den." 

It was then further "Ordered, that Ship-Barbers shall not 
be allowed to dress any wounds, nor administer any potions 
on shore, without the previous knowledge and special con- 
sent of the Petitioners, or at least of Doctor La Montagne." 
(N.Y, Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, pp. 155-56.) 

[98] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

Kieft decided to chcx)se only one, and desiring a New Nethiriand 
"proper experienced person," selected Johannes La 
Montagne. La Montagne had of course one vote at 
council meetings and Kieft had one also; but, as 
Director-General, Kieft had the casting vote as well, 
which always left La Montagne in the minority if 
there was a difference of opinion between them. 
Councillor La Montague's salary was thirty-five 
florins a month, but in addition to this he had many 
privileges. For instance, he had placed at his dis- 
posal the cattle on Bouwery No. i, which belonged 
to Wouter van Twiller, the former Director. So he 
probably had no difficulty in living comfortably on 
his new bouwery. 

Meanwhile what were the former owners, Hudde Amstndtm 
and Gertrude, doing? We hear nothing of them 
until January, 1639, when preparations were evi- 
dently being made for their marriage ; at least, their 
banns were being published in Amsterdam — and 
what could more clearly indicate a marriage than 
the publication of banns I 

When the wedding was really near at hand, Jan 
de Forest, Hendrick's elder brother, thought it time 
to bestir himself if he and his brother Isaack were 
to secure any inheritance from Hendrick^s estate. 
Isaack, being as yet under twenty-five years of age, 
was still under Dutch law a minor, and so Jan asked 
that a certain Jacob Bonasse, a City Packer of Am- 
sterdam, should, with the acquiescence of Gertrude 

[99] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Amsterdam Bomstra, be appointed to represent the brothers 
and be allowed to sell Hendrick's property, wherever 
situated, so that Jan and Isaack might each receive 
their proper portion.^ Jan asked that Isaack's share 
be invested in the "Orphan's Room" in Amsterdam. 
We do not know what the sequel to this action was, 
but it will be shown later that both brothers re- 
ceived their portions, though by another hand. 
New Netkeriand It was probably on July 7, 1639, that Hudde and 

his wife landed in New Amsterdam. They brought 
with them gpods and supplies for use in the cultiva- 
tion of their bouwery, for they took it for granted 
that it was still theirs. Stormy scenes probably 
ensued when the travellers found themselves with- 
out a home. Hudde, who had needed money to pay 
for his purchases in Amsterdam, had borrowed two 
hundred guilders from a fellow-passenger, promis- 
ing payment on arrival. He was therefore in great 
stress, and findmg that his bouwery was really no 
longer his, he was obliged to accept two hundred 
guilders from La Montagne as part payment of the 
balance which the latter still owed to Hendrick's 
estate. To add insult to injury, Hudde is made to 
say in the receipt that he "thanks La Montagne for 
the payment." * 

It was not, however, until a year later that 
"Monsieur Johannes la Montaengne, and S^' 

^ Jan de Forest's Petition, Appendix, p. 355. 
* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 139. 

[ 100 ] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

Andries Hudde • • . conjointly acknowledged that Nm Nithniand 
they amicably agreed and contracted on the 12th 
of July A** 1640 respecting the purchase of the farm 
and gpods and chattels lying on the Island of Man- 
hates, named Vredendaely left by the late Hendiic 
de Foreest." ^ The value of one-sixth part of the 
"goods and chattels," according to the inventory 
made out by Gertrude, was 164 guilders ($65.60); 
this sum was given to La Montague that he might 
satisfy the claims of Hendrick's brothers, and the 
matter was then closed. ^ Needless to say, inune- 
diately after this, on August 28, 1640, La Mon- 
tagne secured a hard and fast deed to the property. 
With regard to Hudde and Gertrude, little need 
be added. Their first son was bom in 1642 and, 
according to a curious custom of those times, was 
named Hendrick after Gertrude's first husband. 
The child did not live long, and so when two years 
later another son arrived, he also was named Hen- 
drick, while Isaack dc Forest's wife, Sarah du Tri- 
eux, appeared as one of the witnesses at his bap- 
tism.' In 1644 Hudde was given the position of 
chief commissary at Fort Nassau on the South 
River. It was probably there that his wife Gertrude 
died s(xne years later. Hudde himself died in 1663. 

* N.Y. Colonial MSB., voL i, p. 216. 

* Ibid., vol. I, p. 217. 

' Baptisms Ehitch Church in New York, 1639-1730, pp. 
14, 16. 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Nm Nethriand Although Hudde had in 1640' renounced all claims 

to Vredendal, La Montagne was not much longer 
to enjoy it. Misfortunes were now hard upon him. 
A minor trouble, but one that g?ivc him annoyance, 
was that Dirck Corssen Stam, the supercargo of the 
Rensselaerswyck, who was probably jealous of La 
Montagne*s prominence, spread evil reports in Hol- 
land regarding him, saying that "Johannes La Mon- 
tagne daily filled his pockets with ducatoons and 
jacobuses,'* and legal steps were necessary to oblige 
Stam to retract these statements.^ 

But something much more serious was now caus- 
ing great anxiety to all. The Indians became dan- 
gerously aggressive in the neighborhood, committing 
many depredations and several murders. Director- 
General Kieft finally determined to destroy all who 
were within his reach. La Montagne urged pacific 
measures. "We ought," said he, "first to consider 
well whether we shall be able to give protection to 
those who are living at a distance." Unfortunately 
his counsel was unheeded, and on the night of Feb- 
ruary 25, 1643,* a large number of the Indians in 
the vicinity were slaughtered. As a natural result 
those who were left retaliated with fires and mas- 
sacres. La Montagne did not suffer from this early 
attack, but the threatening attitude of the Indians 

^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 78; Council Minutes, vol. 
IV, p. no. 
^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 84. 

[ »o2 ] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

continued to give all a feeling of great disquie- Ntw NetiUriand 

tude. 
Another difficulty brought him added care at this 

time. Tobias and Willem, having finished their three 
years of service, were paid off and became "free- 
men" with bouweries of their own. Their former 
master was thus left in a very much handicapped 
condition, as he now had twenty-six acres planted 
in rye, barley, and peas ; there were other crops as 
well, also his tobacco plantation. To relieve himself 
of responsibility he gave a three-year lease of the 
bouwery on June 14, 1643, to Bout Fransen, who 
agreed to cultivate it on shares. But, in only three 
months, the owner was obliged to release Fransen 
from his contract,^ for the neighboring Indians, 
having harvested their maize, retumed to their 
bloody work. No one was spared. Those who could 
do so fled to the town and hardly a settler remained 
on Manhattan Island except in New Amsterdam 
itself. Riker in his "History of Harlem" says, 
"Montague *was driven off his land,' involving the 
loss of all he could not carry away." 

A despairing letter begging for assistance was 
written by the authorities in New Amsterdam on 
November 3, 1643, to the States General at The 
Hague. "We, wretched people," said they, "must 
skulk, with wives and children that still survive, in 

^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 22; Register of Provincial 
Secretary, pp. 59, 6o, 

[ 103 ] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Niw Neikniand poverty together, in and around the fort at the 

Manahatas where we are not safe even for an hour 
whilst the Indians daily threaten to overwhelm us. 
Very little can be planted this autumn and much 
less in the spring; so that it will come to pass that 
all of us who will yet save our lives must of necessity 
perish next year of hunger and sorrow unless our God 
have pity on us/' ^ But of course immediate help 
from Holland was impossible. 

A war against the Indians was now inevitable. 
La Montague, who was recognized as a man of 
resource and judgment, was given the chief mili- 
tary command. He continued to hold this position 
and headed many expeditions against the Indians 
during the following winter and spring. In the sum- 
mer of 164s the Indians were wearied with the 
two years* war, and what was supposed to be a 
"solid and durable peace" was concluded. 

During the time of the Indian warfare, a still 
worse trial than the loss of his land had come to La 
Montague. It was probably in the early part of 1643 
and at Vredendal that he had had the sorrow of 
losing his wife, Rachel de Forest.* She had ever re- 
mained faithful at his side and had more than once 
gone into the wildemess with him. She was not over 

* N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. i, p. 139. 

* It is not impossible that she was one of those killed by 
the Indians, though it seems improbable that the wife of 
Councillor La Montague should have so suffered without its 
being mentioned in the official records. 

[ 104 ] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

thirty-three or thirty-four when she died, and she Nm Netheriand 
had borne him six children, little William, her 
youngest child, having been bom in 1641. 

After his wife was taken from him. La Montagne Niv Amsurdam 
did not feel the same interest in Vredendal, and for 
that and other reasons not far to seek decided to 
make his home in New Amsterdam, where he had so 
many duties. He deemed it wise, however, to secure 
a new ground brief for his bouwery. This was the 
more advisable because his friend Kieft was about to 
retum to Holland. On May 9, 1647, Kieft, two days 
before his departure, gave the required document.^ 
Included in the deed was a point of land called 
"Rechawanes," "The Great Sands," which extended 
between two kills into the East River. This point, 
usually called "Montanye's Point," had not been 
part of the territory granted to Hendrick, but was 
allotted to La Montagne afterward so that he might 
have some salt meadow and an outlet on the river. 

A little later in the same year, that is, four years 
after Rachel's death, he tumed from thoughts of 
troublous conflicts to more personal and peaceful 
considerations, for he had decided to marry again. 
The lady of his choice was Angenietie, widow of 
Arent Corssen.* Now Arent had been lost at sea 



» Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 75 ; Land Papers, vol. GG, 
p. 216. 

* The brother of Dirck Corssen Stam, 8upercai:go of the 
Rensselaerswyck. 



[ 105] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

New Amsterdam and there was difficulty in proving his death, 

but the Council finally decided that "if Mr. La 
Montagne, and she Angenietie, have no sera* 
pies regarding it, they are at liberty to Marry." 
So in September of that year the wedding took 
place. 

The next few years were peaceable enough, but 
on September 14, 1655, there suddenly appeared 
before Manhattan Island sixty-four canoes filled 
with armed savages and the bloody scenes of 1643 
were re-enacted: Many in New Amsterdam were 
now in favor of another war of extermination, but 
La Montagne, always moderate and conservative, 
opposed the idea because of the weakness of the 
colony. "If," said he, "we have no power to prose- 
cute a war, then it becomes necessary that we re- 
main quiet till we shall obtain it, and meanwhile 
not to place too much confidence in the Indians." ^ 
Fortunately his counsel prevailed. 

When Peter Stujrvesant, the new Director-Gen- 
eral, landed in May, 1647, he immediately re- 
tained La Montagne as a member of his council, 
and Councillor La Montagne thus continued to be 
one of the most important men in New Amsterdam. 
But Indian and other troubles still continued, and 
Johannes La Montagne in 1656,* probably tired of 

^ Riker, James. History of Harlem Revised Edition, 
p. 163. 
* Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 173. 

[ 106] 



The Muscoota Bouweries 

strife and contention and hoping to escape further New Jmsttrdam 
trials, accepted the position of Vice-Director at 
Fort Orange, with an annual salary of nine hundred 
guilders. Our old friend Willem Fredericks Bout 
was then at Rensselaerswyck, but poor Tobias 
Teunissen had fallen a victim to the ferocity of the 
Indians in 1655. 

Even at Fort Orange ill fortune pursued La Mon- Fort Orange 
tagne. His daughter Rachel (who had married Sur- 
geon Gysbert Van Imbroech of Esopus) was in 1663 
taken captive with her little Lysbet by the Esopus 
Indians.^ In about a month they were released, 
but the period of their absence was one of great 
anxiety. Meanwhile Vice-Director La Montague 
had found the position at Fort Orange not so satis- 
factory and lucrative as he had hoped and in 1662 
he wrote a most pathetic letter to Stuyvesant and 
the council at New Amsterdam. In it he said : " I al- 
ways kept my household in victuals and clothes as 
temperately as a common burgher here; but the 
excessive dearth of all things has driven me insensi- 
bly into such need and poverty, as that never in the 
68 years that I have lived, so great distress have 
felt, finding myself destitute of all means to pro- 
vide for my daily bread, and provisions for the 
winter ... I, spending in bread, small beer and 
wood f.8oo, have of necessity light money of the 
balance left to speak of." He added that his hope 

^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiu, pp. 246, 271, 283. 

1 107 ] 



Jesse de Forest's Children 

Fort Orange icstcd " in those who Until now have always helped 
me. 

Only two years later the English were in possession 
of New Netherland, and La Montagne with many 
another good man prudently took the oath of allegi- 
ance. He was now, however, wearied by the many 
uncertainties of his life and broken in spirit, and 
although we have no documentary proof, it is pos- 
sible that he returned to Holland in 1665 with 
Stuyvesant. As his son Johannes dropped the "Jr." 
from his name in May, 1670, it is to be presumed 
that the father died at about that date. He must 
then have been seventy-six years of age. 

^ Riker, James. History of Harlem, Revised Edition, 



J^l)n>^^^4^^ 



IV 

ISAACK DE FOREST 

The Founder of the Family in America 

WE already know that on March 4, 1637, Km Nahniand 
Isaack, then a youth of twenty-one, 
arrived at New Amsterdam. He un- 
doubtedly aided his brother Hendrick in selecting 
a site for his plantation and in building his house on 
the broad plain of Muscoota. 

Not long after his arrival, Isaack too received a 
grant for a "bouwery." ^ This was a narrow strip 
of land nearly a mile in length, which had been found 
to lie unassigned between the tracts already granted 
to Jochem Pietersen Kuyter and Coenraet Van 
Keulen, and contained about one hundred acres. 
The strip began on Harlem Creek, opposite Hen- 
drick's land, and extended in an easterly direction to 
the shore of the "Hellegat" (Harlem River), op- 
posite Bronck*s Kill (about First Avenue and 126th 
Street). 
Formal titles were not at this time given for land 

— at any rate, no such records have been preserved 

— and in making a grant the Dutch authorities 
only stipulated that the land should be cultivated 
and improved within the two following years and 

» N. Y. Colonial MSS., vol. GG, p. 219. 

[ 109 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



NtwNetherUmd that after ten years of cultivation the grantees 

should annually pay to the officials the tenth part 
of their crops. 

It is probable that Isaack raised tobacco on his 
farm even while living at Vredendal with his sister, 
but he lived with her only until he married. He 
found his wife in the person of young Sara du 
Trieuxl 

The bride's father was Philippe du Trieux (later 
called de Truy or Truax), who was entered in the 
church record at Amsterdam as a worsted-dyer 
from Robez (Roubaix), not very far from Avesnes. 
Philippe had been married twice and he and his 
first wife, Jacqueminc (or Jacqueline) Noiret, had 
joined the Walloon church at Leyden in 1617. It is 
likely that he and Jesse de Forest, being fellow- 
dyers in the same city, were friends even at that 
early day. Apparently Philippe and his wife moved 
to Amsterdam, for several of their children were 
baptized there, the last one in 1620. It was evidently 
there, too, that Jacqueminc died; for in 1621 in 
Amsterdam, Philippe du Trieux was betrothed to 
Susanna du Chesne. There is not much doubt that 
Philippe and Susanna were among the colonists who 
came to New Amsterdam on board the New Nether- 
land in 1623. He was long known there as the 
"Court Messenger*' or Marshal, as we should call 
him now. In 1638 (or possibly earlier, as the official 
records prior to that date are missing) he owned a 

f "o] 



Founder of the Family in America 

detached hillock on the shore of the East River Ntw Nitkerian& 
overlooking "Smiths Vly*' (valley), which is still 
called "The Swamp/' At the time of his daughter's 
marriage he was, however, living in a house which 
he had built on "Bever Graft*' (Beaver Street). 

In 1637, when the dc Forests arrived in New 
Amsterdam, Philippe du Trieux was quite an old 
inhabitant, and we may be sure that he had a warm 
welcome ready for Jesse de Forest's children. In- 
deed, it is on record that almost as soon as they 
established themselves in the Muscoota bouwery 
Philippe fumished the family with pumpkins I Now 
pumpkins may not be a very romantic means of 
communication between two young people, but 
they must have been extremely acceptable none the 
less and they certainly indicate intercourse between 
the two families ; it is not surprising, therefore, that 
Isaack de Forest and Sara du Trieux shoukl have 
become interested in one another. 

Sara is mentioned in the church record as "of 
New Netherland " ; accordingly, she must have been 
bom in New Amsterdam and was undoubtedly one 
of the first children bom there. The first colonists 
having arrived in 1624, she could not have been 
over seventeen years of age when in the records of 
the Church in the Fort was entered the marriage, 
on June 9, 1641, of "Isaacq de Foreest, yoimg man 
of Leyden, and Sara du Treux, young girl of New 
Netherland." 

[ I" ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Netheriand Isaack, being DOW a married man, wished to have 

a home of his own, and about a month after his 
marriage made a contract with the two English 
carpenters, Jan Habbesen (Hobson?) and Jan 
Merris (Morris?) to erect buildings for him on his 
own bouwery. The dwelling-house was to be built 
on the same general lines as that of his brother but 
with more conveniences. Length of building, 30 
feet; width, 18 feet; "with 2 4-light windows and 
2 3-light windows, 4 beams with brackets and 2 free 
beams." The whole house was to be "tight all 
round ... in such manner as to be secure against 
water and snow." Inside, it had a partition, un- 
doubtedly between the dwelling-house and the 
bam, also three doors and a pantry. In the part 
used as a bam there was a row of stalls. The kitchen 
was in a separate building, 20 by 16 feet, covered 
with clapboards and furnished with an "English 
chimney." This was probably built of cobblestones, 
which New England farmers so often used for their 
chinmeys. The tobacco house, 60 feet long, con- 
tained "inside work." All these buildings, continues 
the record, the two English carpenters are to finish 
"as soon as they possibly can," and for the work are 
to receive 300 Carolus guilders ($120).^ 

To meet this payment the money received by 
Isaack from his brother Hendrick's estate was un- 
doubtedly very useful, even though there was very 



* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. i, p. 250. 

[112] 



Founder of the Family in America 

little of it. Only 164 guilders had been awarded to New NetkerUmd 

Isaack and his brother Jan in settlement of their 

claims, and we cannot tell exactly what portion 

Isaack received. AU the information we have con- 

ceming his belongings at this time is that he owned 

one half of a bull calf and one half of two young kids 

— not a very large herd of cattle with which to 

start the stocking of a farm. 

The year following the marriage there was great 
rejoicing in the lonely farmhouse, for a son and heir 
came to bless the young couple. He was baptized 
by Domine Bogardus in New Amsterdam on Novem- 
ber 9, 1642, and was named " Jessen" for his grand- 
father, even Jesse's name having yielded to Dutch 
influence. Among the witnesses on this important 
occasion were Jochem Pietersen Kuyter, Isaack's 
nearest neighbor and a very eminent man in the 
colony; Philippe du Trieux, the baby's grandfather; 
and his aunt, Rachel de Forest, respectfully called 
"Madame de La Montague,*' on account of her 
husband's prominent position. 

The rejoicing, however, was soon tumed to sor- 
row, for the little boy lived only a short time, and 
his Aunt Rachel also died soon afterward, though 
we do not know the exact date. 

Then a new anxiety visited the young couple. 
They could hardly have been established in their 
home more than a year before Kieft made his ill- 
judged attack upon the Indians, who, as we have 

["3] 



Isaack de Forest 



Ntw Netheriand heard, retaliated. Neither Isaack nor La Montagne 

suffered from this early attack, but during the tem- 
porary peace which ensued, the younger man pru- 
dently decided to lease his bouwery for three years 
to John Denton, who was to* cultivate tobacco for 
their joint account. The contract was signed on 
July 6, 1643,^ and the agreement was to take effect 
on the first of the following October.* Long before 
that time, however, Denton had cancelled his lease, 
for the savages had again fallen upon the settlers with 
fire and brutal murders. Apparently the young couple 
had moved into the town as soon as the Denton lease 
was signed and so had escaped with their lives. 

When Isaack left his bouwery on "the Kill that 
runs around the Island," he could have had no idea 
how historically interesting the land would become 
later. A short history of Isaack's bouwery, as well 
as of Hendrick*s, may well be given in this place, 
although the record covers a period subsequent to 
that with which we are now dealing. 

We know that Isaack's tenant, Denton, refused 
^ ... 

or was unable to carry out the provisions of his lease 

and that the land was very likely laid waste by the 

Indians in the fall of 1643. It was at about the same 

time that La Montagne was driven from his beloved 

Vredendal, which, as the reader will remember, 

* N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. ni, p. 137. 

* It was on June 14, 1643, that La Montagne had leased 
Vredendal to Fransen. 



[ "4] 




o 



J2 o 

O ** 

flu ^ 

w -^ 

O S 

< JS 

> <«. 

o 

w. B 

< - 

X ^^ 

2 a 

u« 
o 

< 



Founder of the Family in America 

had been informally " granted'* to Hendrick de NmNitkiriand 
Forest in 1637, "patented" by regular land brief 
to Andries Hudde in July, 1638, and sold at auction 
to La Montagne in October of the same year. 
Isaack's grant had probably been given a year or 
two later than that of his brother. 

The fact that both properties — those of La 
Montagne and de Forest — had been in all likeli- 
hood abandoned during the time of the Indian on- 
slaught supplied a gpod reason for the new patents 
or land briefs that were secured later for both tracts. 
La Montague's new patent was, as we have heard, 
given by Kieft on May 9, 1647,^ two days before 
his departure for Holland, while Isaack de Forest's 
was given by the new Director-General, Stuyvesant, 
only six days afterward.^ 

In 1650, when a permanent peace was supposed to 
exist between the Indians and the whites, Isaack 
succeeded in selling his house and part of his bou- 
wery to one of the best-known burghers of New 
Amsterdam, Willem Beeckman.^ The latter, who 
dealt largely in real estate, resold it to Comelis 
Claesen Swits only three years later. Swits with 
his family had occupied it but two years when in 
September, 1655, a second Indian outbreak took 
place. Swits was the first of the colonists on Man- 
hattan Island who suffered at that time. He was 

^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 375. 
' N.Y. Colonial MSS., vol. in, p. 46. 

[ "5] 



Isaack de Forest 



Ntw Nethifiand brutally murdered in his home (the house which 

Isaack had built), the house was probably burned, 
the crops were destroyed, the cattle killed or driven 
off, and Swits's wife and children carried into cap- 
tivity. Many shared the same fate at this time, 
among others, Tobias Teunissen, the wool-washer 
who came with the de Forests from Leyden and who 
now had a bouwery of his own. Both families were 
subsequently released, but were left in a condition 
of abject poverty and were obliged before long to 
relinquish all claim to their lands. 

After this calamity the Director and Council 
passed an ordinance forbidding settlers from living 
in solitary or exposed places. They also ordered that 
a village be laid out in which all the settlers could 
dwell together in comparative security. Isaack's 
land, already cleared and accessible from the waters 
of the Hellegat, was chosen for this purpose, and on 
it in 1658 was located the village of Nieuw Haer- 
lem,^ with Isaack's lane or wagon-track for its first 
street. Probably neither Isaack nor La Montagne 
ever regretted leaving the Muscoota region, but La 
Montague's son, Jan La Montagne, Jr., was one of 
the first to take up land in the new village and was 
for many years one of its leading citizens. 

New Jmsufdam When Isaack and Sara moved into New Amster- 
dam in the summer or early autumn of 1643, they 



^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 191. 

[ "6] 



Founder of the Family in America 

found all the inhabitants in great tenror of the In- Nm Amsutiam 
dians and everyone desirous of securing a site in the 
immediate vicinity of the fort. So urgent was the 
demand for lots that the authorities decided to 
grant for this purpose part of the "Marcktveldt," 
the market-place or esplanade which adjoined the 
fort. A narrow street or lane, only 22 feet wide, was 
therefore laid out in front of the Company's five 
stone houses. It was called "Winckel Straet," and 
on it five dwellings were built, with small gardens 
opening in the rear on the Marcktveldt. The centre 
house was the home of Domine Bogardus and ad- 
joining it on the north was that occupied by Isaack 
and Sara. For this lot, 33 feet wide by %2}4 feet 
deep, a patent was given by Director Kieft on Aug- 
ust 22, 1646,^ but the de Forests had very likely 
occupied the house several years before receiving 
their patent, as in those days was often the case. 
Here they lived for six years or more and here at 
least four of their children were bom. 

Another piece of property had been conveyed to 
Isaack even before the lot on Winckel Straet. On 
September 5, 1645, he was "given and granted" 
a certain piece of land of an irregular shape which 
faced on the Marcktveldt.* Connected with this 
by a passageway only four feet wide was a large plot 
of land for a garden -:— indeed, it was about 170 by 

^ Valentine's Manual, 1857, p. 502. 
' Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 370. 

["7] 



Isaack de Forest 



Niw Amstifiam 85 feet, nearly half an acre. Just think of a garden 

of that size in the most crowded part of New Am- 
sterdam ! To be sure, it was in the middle of a block 
but it was easily reached by a lane from the market- 
place, the "Marcktveldt Steeg," and also from the 
lot on Brouwer Straet where Isaack lived after he 
left Winckel Straet. 

This move took place before long, for Isaack, see- 
ing his family increase and realizing that it would 
soon out^ow the limits of the little house, sought for 
a more satisfactory home. In the latter part of 1653 
he purchased through the heirs of a certain Surgeon 
Van der Bogaerdt ^ the house which the latter had 
built and occupied on a street which was later named 
Brouwer Straet * but was then called simply "the 
road'*; that is, the road from the fort to the valley 
beyond. It formed a cgnnecting street between the 
Marcktveldt and the "Heere Graft,*' which is now 
known as Broad Street but then had an open ditch 
or "graft" through the middle of it. In this house 
Isaack and his family were living in 1653, and 
there he dwelt for the rest of his days, for Isaack's 
home was now permanently established in New 
Amsterdam. 

It may not be amiss here to give some idea of the 
conditions that then prevailed in the town. Several 

• ^ For deeds of this property see Appendix, p. 358. 

* Brewer's Street — undoubtedly so named because on it 
faced the great brewery of the West India Company. 

[ "8] 



APlitHofUuJlnHtitifiiiMLBlj 



MAP SHOWING ISAAC KS LOT ON BROUWER STRAET 

A dark line surrounds liuck't entire plot 
Adiplcd Iram rnups in " New Amiterdim and lt> People," by J. H. Innc 



Founder of the Family in America 

writers of the day have left us descriptions of New New Amsurdam 

Amsterdam at about this period. Peter Kalm wrote : 

"Most of the houses are built in the old way, with 

the gable end towards the street; the gable end of 

brick & all the other walls of planks . . . . The street 

doors are generally in the middle of the houses and 

on both sides are seats, on which, during fair weather, 

the people spend almost the whole day." 

Madam Knight, who travelled so extensively in 
New England, in writing of New Amsterdam tells 
us: "The Buildings are Brick Generally, very 
stately & high. The Bricks in some of the Houses 
are of divers CouUers and laid in Checkers, being 
glazed, look very agreeable. The inside of them is 
neat to admiration." ^ 

Still another writer says that the land being high, 
the town presented a "pleasing aspect to the Spec- 
tator"; that the gable ends of the high roofs were 
"notched like steps"; that "the front doors were 
equally divided as in Holland with an upper & a 
lower half"; and that there were "divers sorts of 
singing birds whose chirping notes salute the ear of 
Travellers with an harmonious discord and in every 
pond and brook green silken Frogs who warbling 
forth their untun-d tunes strive to make a part of 
this musick/' 

Director Kieft had told Father Isaac Jogues, the 

^ Knight, Madam. Brief Description of New YorL 
London, 1670. 

[ "9] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Amsterdam French Jcsuit, who stayed in the town in 1643, that 

there were at that time "four or five hundred men 
of different sects and nations" living in and about 
New Amsterdam and that eighteen different lan- 
guages were spoken.^ So even at that early date the 
place was cosmopolitan in character. 

Of course there was a church in New Amsterdam 
even before the de Forests went there to live, and 
Domine Bpgardus was then in charge of it. A church 
for the "Reformed Religion," a wooden building of 
the simplest kind, with an equally simple house and 
stable for the domine, had been erected in 1633 on 
the shore of the East River (then called the Strand 
and, later. Pearl Street). Here the Dutch domine 
preached in his mother tongue, although in the very 
earliest times a domine had preached sometimes in 
French also for the benefit of the Walloons. In 1643 
a new church was in process of erection, 72 feet long 
and 55 feet wide, its walls being "laid up in quarry 
stone." Here in the Church of St. Nicholas, the 
"Church in the Fort," as it was called, the Dutch 
for fifty years held their services. 

There were probably about 150 members of this 
church when Isaack moved into the town. La 
Montague was at one time an elder and quite likely 
Isaack too held office, but the early records are 
unfortunately very incomplete. Some of the most 



* Narratives of New Netherland, edited by J. Franklin 
Jameson, p. 259. 

[ 120 ] 



SILVER COMMUNION BEAKER USED IN THE CHURCH 

IN THE FORT 

Mide in Hieclcm (Holbnd) io i6jS 



Founder of the Family in America 

treasured possessions of the Church in the Fort were Nm Amsutiam 

its pieces of communion silver, especially a beautiful 

beaker that came from Holland and bears the 1638 

mark of a Harlem maker. It is therefore quite safe 

to assume that this beaker was used at the church 

when Isaack and Sara attended services there. 

Apparently progress in secular affairs was slow. 
The first public tavern was built by Director Kieft 
in 1643; this was used for the accommodation of 
strangers as well as for many municipal purposes, 
and in 1653 it became the first "Stadt Huys" or 
city hall. There were still no public schools in the 
town, and while a ferry ran between New Amster- 
dam and Long Island (a flat-bottomed boat, sum- 
moned by the blowing of a horn), not even a wagon 
road led to the bouweries on the northem part of 
the island. The streets were not lighted and it was 
many years before an ordinance was passed that 
during the **dark time of the moon . . . every seventh 
house do hang out a pole with a lantern and candle." 
It was also many years before the order was given 
that "no swine whatsoever be suffered to goe or 
range in any of the streets." 

As to labor conditions, the tobacco plantations 
were often worked by negro slaves, slavery having 
been established in the colony as early as 1625 or 
1626. The West India Company owned a number 
of negroes who could be hired for heavy work, and 
they were found to be so useful to the settlers that 

[121 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Amsterdam the Directors of the Company "granted liberty to 

particular merchants to send two or three ships to 
the coast of Africa to purchase slaves^ & to promote 
the settlement of the country by importing the 
same/' ^ We know that in 1655 Isaack owned a 
"negro" and that in 1664 he and his partner, 
Johannes Verveelen, were active bidders at a slave 
auction. The average value of a slave was about 
i$i8o. 

The greatest difficulty lay in securing good do- 
mestic servants. The first Dutch minister sent to 
the colony, Rev. Jonas Michaelius, shortly after his 
arrival had written home: "Maid servants are 
not here to be had, at least none whom they can 
advise me to take; and the Angola slave women are 
thievish, lazy and useless trash." * 

Isaack seems to have had similar troubles, for he 
finally sent to Holland for a servant. A certain 
Janneken Cornells was engaged for him and her 
passage paid, also her board while at sea. She 
arrived early in March, 1658, but within a few days 
Isaack de Forest was in court, saying that "she 
sought to get out of the house as soon as she was 
with him, abusing him and his wife very spitefully." 
Isaack demanded restitution of her passage and 



* N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. xiv, p. 209. 

* Letter of Rev. Jonas Michaelius written in New Am- 
sterdam in 1628, N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. 11, p. 
768. 



[ I" ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

board monies and was allowed to keep her *' goods'' Ntw Amsurdam 
until she should repay him.^ 

Isaack was now definitely established in New 
Amsterdam as a "Free Merchant." Having been 
a tobacco planter, it was natural that he should have 
engaged immediately in the tobacco business and we 
soon find him buying crops and storing them in the 
old church building, then used as a warehouse ; for 
the Church in the Fort was so nearly finished that 
it could be occupied. He continued for a number of 
years to deal in tobacco, but as plantations were 
destroyed and crops became less abundant, he 
adopted other means of livelihood as well. He bought 
and sold beaver skins, and at one time or another 
owned a great deal of land, which he sold again, 
presumably at a profit; he built houses and disposed 
of them, and also lent money at interest. 

Most important of all, perhaps, he had become 
even before 1653 a brewer on a large scale. It is 
said that one of the greatest hardships endured by 
the earliest settlers was the absence of their be- 
loved malt liquors. Very soon, however, they began 
to import malt to remedy this deficiency, and large 
quantities of beer were consumed. Families pur- 
chased it by the barrel or half-barrel, judges drank 
it on the bench and farmhands in the fields. No 
ceremony, either civil or religious, was complete 
without it. At auctions it was supposed to make 

* Records of New Amsterdam, vol. 11, pp. 350-51. 

[ '23 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Amstifdam men's purses more accessible and even at funerals 

it facilitated the mourning. So constant was its 
use that it was deemed wise to enact a law forbid- 
ding the tapping of beer during the hours of divine 
service! From all this it will be seen that an expert 
brewer held no unimportant position in the com- 
munity. 

When Johannes Verveelen came to New Amster- 
dam in 1657, he and Isaack formed a partnership 
and together they conducted a very successful 
brewery. Not every one could pursue this trade ; for 
the authorities in their efforts to have only really 
good beer on sale had passed a stringent ordinance 
that "only those shall be brewers who are known to 
have sufficient skill in the art/' 

Isaack's malt-house was near his residence on 
Brouwer Straet and it is known that soon after he 
took Verveelen for his partner he owned a good- 
sized brew-house on a large^ irregular lot on the 
north side of " Prinsen Straet" (now Beaver Street), 
a short distance to the east of the Heere Graft. To 
supply the hops necessary for brewing, he had a 
hop-garden (as well as an orchard) on "Norman's 
Bi^L" ^ For some reason, however, Isaack de- 
cided to give up his trade of brewer and on Febru- 

* This was evidently at "Noorman's kil," the Long 
Island shore of the East River near the village of Boswyck 
(Bushwick). Isaack had at an early date obtained a lot there 
from Pieter Jansen Trimboli the^^Noorman" or Norwegian. 



I 124 ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

ary 14, 1662, he sold his brew-house to his brother* Ntm Amstndmn 
brewers, Johannes and Daniel Verveelen.^ 

There was a certain well-known brewer in New 
Amsterdam, Jacob Wolphertsen van Couwenhoven 
by name, who was a great friend of Isaack, even if 
he was his rival in trade. He was one of the city 
burghers, a church warden, and held many important 
offices; but although he was so highly thought of 
and was affectionately called "Old Jacob " by every- 
body, he was obliged frequently to appear before 
the magistrate because of embarrassments in money 
matters. There came a time in 1656 when things 
looked rather desperate for him. He was already 
greatly in debt because of the handsome stone house 
he had built for himself on Hoogh Street, though 
that did not long deter him from undertaking the 
construction of " the great stone brew-house," as it 
was usually called, on the comer of Hoogh Street 
and the Heere Graft. Creditors began to press for 
payment, and his fellow-brewer, Isaack, was obliged 
to come to his aid. Isaack therefore presented a 
petition to the Director-General and Council, asking 
that he be allowed to contract with van Couwen- 
hoven for all the strong beer the latter could brew 
in a year, hoping that by this means "so well situ- 
ated a brewery as that [of van Couwenhoven] may 
not be abandoned, but to the contrary may become 
the means to maintain decently that man with his 

^ Valentine's Manual, 1865, p. 687. 



Isaack de Forest 



New AmsUfdmn family, while otherwise his ruin might be unavoid- 
able/' ^ Isaack's request was granted but the relief 
seems to have been only temporary. 

One of "Old Jacob's" weaknesses was that he 
could never resist a bargain in real estate, even if he 
did not have the wherewithal to pay for it. On 
April 8, 1656, the Director and Council sold "de 
Oude Kerck" and lot at auction,* and van Cou- 
wenhoven, true to his character, purchased it. He 
had owned it but a few weeks when his friend Isaack 
again came to his assistance by purchasing it from 
him on September i, 1656.' Not a month later, 
when Isaack was apparently about to pay for 
his purchase, two of Jacob's creditors came into 
court demanding that Isaack pay to them the price 
of the building and lot instead of giving it to van 
Couwenhoven. TTiis the court thought just and it 
ordered the "Vendue master to lift the monies from 
Foreest" and pay them to the petitioners. By this 
transaction Isaack got possession of the old church 
building.^ 

Since the Church in the Fort had been finished, 
the "mean bam," as the old church was sometimes 
called, had become a sort of lumber house, where 
the West India Company stored merchandise of all 

^ Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 178; Council Minutes, vol. 
VIII, p. 307. 

* Deeds and Conveyances, 1654-1658, p. 143. City 
Qerk's Office, City Hall, New York. » Ibid. 

* Lot now called 39 Pearl Street. 



[ »26] 



L DUTCH YACHT OR SLOOP, ABOUT I63O, PROBABLY SUCH A SEA- 
GOING YACHT AS WAS OWNED BY ISAACK 
From "Hiicoiy of VKbung," by Arthur H. CUrk 



Founder of the Family in America 

kinds, including wood, it is said, so that prisoners New Amsurdam 
could there work out their sentences sawing wood. 
No wonder that Isaack felt that this lovely spot 
right on the shore of the East River deserved to 
have a better-looking building upon it, and he forth- 
with began either to alter or to rebuild. Probably 
he removed the old church and built in its place a 
dwelling-house. It is on record that in October of 
that year he brought suit against two certain men 
for "having failed to deliver, according to agreement 
the stone and lime contracted for the cellar."^ This 
was especially annoying and reprehensible inasmuch 
as Isaack had bought a small "yacht" in which they 
could transport the stone. After the building was 
finished, Isaack proudly asserted that he had "built 
on the above mentioned lot a house which is an 
ornament to the city." 

Isaack also appealed to the Coimcil for a grant of 
the church lane which adjoined the church lot, say- 
ing that as the house occupied the full width of the 
lot, he had no space left in which "to store wood or 
other necessaries." * His request was granted. 

Because of the early associations connected with 
this site or possibly because the original building 
was simply altered and not rebuilt, it was custo- 
mary to allude to it as the "Oude Kerck." It was 
still standing in 1718. ^ 

* Records of New Amsterdam, vol. 11, p. 213. 

* Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 383. 

[ ^27 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



Niw Amsterdam This WES not the Only house put up by Isaack in 

New Amsterdam. It has been said that " De Forest 
expended his means in building several fine houses 
in New Amsterdam." One of these houses was on 
the small lot which had been granted to him in 1645, 
the lot which was 4 rods i foot wide, 5 rods 9 feet 
long, and faced on the Marcktveldt. TTiis was the 
lot which was connected by a passageway with his 
own garden and on it he built a dwelling-house, and 
the entire lot he " actually fenced with clap-boards," 
though what kind of a fence they would make is not 
quite clear. This lot and house Isaack on August 2, 
1649,^ transferred to Willem Beeckman, the burgher 
who in 1650, as we know, bought Isaack's bouwery 
also. 

Still another house in the vicinity belonged to 
him; this was in the rear of his own lot and was on 
the south side of the Marcktveldt Steeg. This house 
he sold to his nephew, Jan La Montague, Jr.,* on 
September 26, 1655.' Jan had sailed for Amster- 
dam in 1654 ^^^h a consignment of tobacco valued 
at 1,000 guilders belonging to his Uncle Isaack.* 
This he was to sell and to invest the proceeds in 
merchandise according to his uncle's list ; the mer- 
chandise was apparently to be resold in New 



* Calendar of Dutch MSS., p. 47; Register of Provincial 
Secretary, vol. in, p. 46. 

' Valentine's Manual, i85i, p. 581. 

• Year Book Holland Society of New York, 1900, pp. 172, 

174. 

[ 1^8] 



Founder of the Family in America 

Amsterdam. A certain Vincent Pikes was Jan's NtwJmsurdam 

partner in this venture. While in Amsterdam Jan 

fell in love with and married Petronella Pikes, the 

sister of his partner, and it was upon his return to 

New Amsterdam that he bought the house on the 

Marcktveldt Steeg from his Uncle Isaack as a home 

for his bride. 

Immediately after Isaack's arrival in the town he 
had become actively interested in its public affairs. 
Director-General Kieft, who was then blamed on 
every hand for the Indian outrages, which it was 
felt his policy had caused, deemed it wise to secure 
the cooperation of the people in the government of 
the colony, and in the early fall of 1643 he summoned 
the "Commonalty of the Manhattans,'* fifty-six of 
its citizens, including Isaack, to elect five or six per- 
sons from among themselves to aid in the govem- 
ment and to "weigh maturely the articles laid be- 
fore them." ^ In this way the popular board ci 
"Eight Men" was elected. The services of the Eight 
Men were dispensed with some years later, and a new 
board, the "Nine Men," was created in 1647. They 
were to "give their opinion on matters submitted 
to them by the Director and Council" and were "to 
attend for a month in rotation on the weekly court 
as long as the civil cases were before it and to act 
subsequently as referees or arbitrators." * 

* N.Y. Q)loniaI Documents, vol, i, pp. 191-92. 

^ O'Callaghan, E. B. Register of New Netherland, p. 55. 

[ 129 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Jmufdam Isaack became one of the Nine Men in 1652. The 

year following Isaack's appointment, a radical 
change took place in the government. The city was 
incorporated and the Nine Men were superseded 
by a court of magistrates consisting of a schout, 
two burgomasters, and five schepens. '^Isaacq de 
Foreest," as the Dutch usually wrote his name, be- 
came a schepen a few years later. 

Before this appointment, however, he had held 
several other offices. He was several times appointed 
selectman and as such w^s one of six who in 165 1 
witnessed an important conference between Stuy- 
vesant and the Indians on the Delaware River. ^ A 
few years later he and six others met the burgo- 
masters and schepens ''to confer about the decline of 
zeewan (wampum) and the cause thereof." In 1653 
he was appointed inspector of tobacco, in 1655 and 
1656 farmer of the revenues of the weigh house, and 
in 1660 farmer of the revenue of tavem excise. 

Still another position he filled. He was made one 
of the "orphan masters of New Amsterdam," and 
there were, alas, many orphans in those days when 
so many fathers had been butchered by Indians. 
Sometimes the orphan masters had to ransom chU- 
dren whom savages had carried off. Isaack in this 
capacity once paid 60 guilders ($24) ransom for a 
little boy and 94 guilders ($38) for a little girl. The 
interests of the fatherless children of both Swits and 



^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. i, p. 597. 

[ 130 ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

Teunissen were looked after by this board even NewAnuutdam 
while the children themselves were still in captivity. 
TTie records show that Isaack de Forest was a 
public-spirited man. He was one of those who re- 
sponded when Stuyvesant asked for a voluntary 
subscription for repairing and strengthening the 
outer works of the city, and was among the twenty- 
one prominent citizens who in 1653 promised the 
burgomasters and schepens to submit to certain 
taxes ''for paying the public expenses and keeping in 
repair the works "^ of the city. When in 1655 there 
was a proposal to repave Brouwer Straet, he united 
with the nine other property owners on that street 
who offered to bear the cost themselves. "It was 
the first street in the city that was paved/^ they 
wrote when making their offer, adding: "The said 
street is becoming unfit for public use ... we should 
be still inclined to pave the said street with round 
stones on the first favorable opportunity . . . but 
we have deemed it proper to propose the same to 
your Honors . . . and request your permission, as 
to surveys, levels, drains . . . and we oblige our- 
selves to furnish the stone, the raising and lowering 
necessary thereto, each to the extent of his house and 
lot, and further to folbw the general rules relative 
to paving and expense, with the request that the 
unwilling be constrained to the same/' * 

* Records of New Amsterdam, vol. i, pp. 67, 127. 

* Ibid., p. 300. 

[ 131 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



Nm Amsurdam The request was granted and the fence viewers 

were summoned to assist the ten property owners 
of Brouwer Straet. The constraining of the unwil- 
ling does not, however, seem to have been successful; 
for on January 4, 1658, the record says once more 
that Brouwer Straet " is inconvenient to be used in 
foul and bad weather*' and it is evident that the 
repaving has never been accomplished. On March 
28, 1658, Isaack de Forest, who had been appointed 
one of the two "overseers and administrators "of 
the street, appeared in court complaining, "The 
inhabitants of the Brewers Street who imposed on 
themselves the tax for the benefit of the street in 
order to its being paved, are unwilling to pay, re- 
questing that the magistrates may be pleased to 
order payment/' ^ Possibly he did not even then get 
the redress asked for, as he was in court again six 
weeks afterward praying to be discharged from the 
superintendence of Brouwer Straet. It is said that 
its subsequent name, Stone Street (used after the 
English occupation), was given because it was the 
first city street to be paved with stones. 

It is not surprising that Isaack, having performed 
all these dignified and useful public services, should 
have longed for the honorable title of "Great Bur- 
gher." Only great burghers could fill certain public 
offices. They were also free from arrest for petty 
misdemeanors and enjoyed various other privileges. 



^ Records of New Amsterdam, vol. 11, p. 367. 

[ 132 ] 



DUTCH COTTAGE IN BEAVER STREET, NEW YORK, 1679 

Fiom Valentine'i Miniul, 1853 



Founder of the Family in America 

For instance, a great burgher's property was exempt New Amturiam 
from confiscation if he were convicted of a capital 
c^ense/ which was an important exemption at a 
time when the punishment for so many misdeeds 
was a sentence of death. 

We therefore find under date of April 26, 1657, 
this record: "Isaac de Forecst requests by petition 
the privilege of the Great Burgher Right, as he has 
been in the country for over 20 years, has built con- 
siderably in this city and perforaied many services." 
The decree of the burgomasters says that the " Peti- 
tioner's request cannot be granted, according to the 
order of the Director-General and Council and the 
explanation of the Great and Small Burgher Right," ^ 
though we are given no clue as to what this explana- 
tion really was. 

Four days after this decree, possibly to console 
him for his disappointment, he was made a " Small 
Burgher," a position carrying with it fewer privi- 
leges. He had not long to wait, however, for the 
coveted title ; for on January 28, 1658, Director-Gen- 
eral Stuyvesant and the Council of New Nether- 
land, addressing a rather pompous document to 
"Honble, Beloved, Particular, Schout, Burgomas- 
ters and Schepens of the City of New Amsterdam," 
said, among other things, "We have taken into seri- 
ous consideration and reflection the small number of 

* O'Callaghan, E. B. Register of New Netherland, p. 173. 

* Records of New Amsterdam, vol. vii, p. 157. 

[ 133 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Amsurdam Great Burghers and the consequent trifling change 

of persons fit therefor; for this and other reasons us 
moving, we have found it advantageous for this city 
to increase the said number of Great Burghers and 
to reinforce it with six old and suitable persons/* ^ 
Isaack was among the ^'six old and suitable per- 
sons," That he acquitted himself well we may as- 
sume ; for we later find reference to him as one of the 
''most influential burghers and inhabitants of the 
city." 

Two years before Isaack became a great burgher 
there had been talk of making him one of the city 
magistrates. When the annual election of burgo- 
masters and schepens took place on January 31, 
1656, the outgoing magistrates were asked to nomi- 
nate as their successors " such persons as are of good 
fame and name and considered worthy to fill such of- 
fice and who would be inclined to appear with honor 
in their place." * There were ei^t nominations for 
the position of schepen, Isaack's name being in- 
cluded, but the honor of an election did not follow 
the nomination- Two years later, however, on Feb- 
ruary 2, 1658, five days after he became a great 
burgher, he was duly elected "Schepen." 

No doubt Burgher Isaack's heart swelled with 
pride when he found himself one of the high and 
mighty ones of the town — but pride must have a 



* Records of New Amsterdam, vol. n, p. 315. 

* Ibid., p. 26. 

[134] 



i L/C) N C' E, • i 




r 



en 




n..; 
r 



If 



1 



* iij 



r 



t < 



MAP OF NEW AMSTERDAM, "THE DUKE*S PLAN," SEPTEMBER, 1 66 1 

From the original in the British Museum 






'U 




^\'^ 




(1 14 V q :i N I ■» w a wj^ 



Founder of the Family in America 

fall. Shortly after his appointment he was obliged Nm Amsterdam 
to appear before the schout in order to rescue his son 
Jan from the difficulties in which he had become in- 
volved. It appears that on the previous Thanks- 
giving Jan (then a lad of fourteen) and two of his 
friends ''ran fuddled and tipsy along the street." 
The schout claimed that they had taken the beer 
out of van Brugh's cellar and condemned the three 
boys to '' sit two days in close confinement on bread 
and small beer, without receiving anything else, or 
to be fined, each to pay the sum of 12 guilders." 

Isaack succeeded in convincing the schout that 
the drink had been given to the boys by van Brugh's 
negroes, and so the suit was dismissed, the parents 
being told to "punish their children for their com- 
mitted offence and charge them not to repeat it." * 
Such are the trials which sometimes come to a father, 
no matter how exalted his position may be. 

The year 1664 was memorable in New Amsterdam 
— the year when the English, having given no previ- 
ous warning, took possession of the city without 
firing a shot. The colony, just before this invasion, 
was again having trouble with the Indians and so 
was paying slight attention to its English neighbors. 
Rumors finally reached New Amsterdam that an 
invading fleet was approaching, and the inhabitants 
began in a leisurely way to strengthen the fortifica- 

^ Records of New Amsterdam, vol. v, p. 2. 

[ 135 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



NiwJmsttrdam tionsof the place. Great consternation was felt^ how- 
ever, when on August 26th an EngUsh man-of-war 
entered the Lower Bay, followed on August 28th 
by two others and an armed transport filled with 
soldiers, all under the command of Colonel Richard 
Nicolls. 

While the first English ship was on guard alone, 
a certain Dutchman, Claes Verbraeck, then on his 
way home in his sloop from the South River, came 
sailing up the bay. The English prcxnptly boarded 
the sloop and made him a prisoner. After being 
interrogated and detained for some time, he was 
allowed to proceed to New Amsterdam, no doubt 
carrying with him startling rumors of the intentions 
of the English. Many depredations were committed 
on shore by the invaders and during one of them a 
Dutch soldier was wounded and captured. After 
this the hostile vessels were moved up to the Nar- 
rows, and it was at this time that Isaack de Forest 
was arrested and took an unexpected part, even if a 
small one, in determining the fate of the city.^ 

It is on record that during this time "a burgher 
coming from without " made his appearance upon 
the scene and was made prisoner by the English. 
Apparently only two men (besides the wounded 
soldier) were taken prisoners by the English, Claes 
Verbraeck and this "burgher coming from without." 
Now we know that Burgher Isaack was arrested at 



^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. 11, pp. 410, 411, 501-03. 

[136] 



Founder of the Family in America 

abcHit this time and so there seems little doubt that Nm imatfimn 
this voyagpr from "without" — that is, from out- 
side the Lower Bay — was Isaack de Forest, who 
was very likely then returning in his sea-going yacht 
from a voyage to the South River or Virginia in 
search of tobacco, and was sailing al<mg, all uncon* 
scious of what was taking place. He did not, how- 
ever, long remain unconscious of the hostile inten- 
tions of the English vessels, for they gave him a 
volley of grapeshot. This brought him to his senses, 
but not in time to prevent his being taken prisoner. 
His release soon followed, on August 31st, and he 
returned in his boat to New Amsterdam, bringing 
with him the wounded soldier who had previously 
been captured. 

Once on shore, he was closely questioned by Stuy- 
vesant and the Dutch authorities as to the strength 
of the invaders. The English had probably seen to 
it that he should not underestimate their numbers, 
and their ruse was successful ; for he apparently re- 
ported that Colonel NicoUs had a force of 800 sol- 
diers ready to attack New Amsterdam. As the 
Dutch had at this time only about 150 soldiers in the 
fort and as the able-bodied men in the town would 
not much more than double that number, the sur- 
render of the city was deemed unavoidable. Stuy- 
vesant absolutely refused to acquiesce, however, 
until he was forced to do so by the demands of the 
people. 

[ ^37 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



NmAnuterdam The Directof-General and Council received on 

September sth a "Remonstrance of the people of 
New Netherland . . • against resisting the English 
and urging a capitulation/' "We are," said they, 
"about fifteen hundred innocent souls, only two 
hundred and fifty of whom are capable of bearing 
arms . • . Four of the English King's frigates are 
now lying in the road . . . with six hundred soldiers. 
• . . [Their] threats would not have been at all re- 
garded, could your Honors or we, your petitioners, 
expect the smallest aid or succor. But (God help 
us!), whether we turn us for assistance to the north 
or to the south, to the east or to the west, 'tis all 
vainl . . . 

"Wherefore, to prevent and arrest all the afore- 
said misfortunes, we humbly, and in bitterness of 
heart, implore your Honors not to reject the condi- 
tions of so generous a foe. . . . Otherwise (which God 
forbid), are we obliged ... to protest against and 
call down on your Honors the vengeance of heaven 
for all the innocent blood which shall be shed in con- 
sequence of your Honors' obstinacy." ^ Our friend 
Isaack was among the ninety-three signers of this 
petition. 

Another thing which hastened the decision to 
surrender was that the English ships had moved 
up the river, anchored near the fort, and were pre- 
paring to bombard the town. 



^ N.Y. Coloaial Documents, vol. ii, p. 249. 

[ 138] 



Founder of the Family in America 

Very reluctantly Stuyvcsant decided to capitulate New Jmurdam 
when it was clear that no other course was open to 
him, and on September ^th twelve delegates, half of 
them English and half Dutch, met at Stuyvesant's 
bouwery and arranged the details. On September 
8th the evacuation of the fort took place, the garri- 
son marching out "with all their arms, flying colors 
and beating drums,'' according to the temis of the 
capitulation. 

After the surrender had taken place and the citi- 
zens had discovered that the English force was no 
stronger than that of the Dutch, great indignation 
was expressed against poor Isaack, who "greatly 
exaggerating the English force, was believed." ^ We 
can well imagine, therefore, that he was for the 
moment hardly in favor with either the authorities 
or his fellow-townsmen. 

The Dutch were the more incensed by the action 
of the English because the two countries were at 
this time supposed to be at peace with one another. 
The troops were now quartered on the city, to which 
the inhabitants much objected, saying that "they 
had rather contribute than lodge soldiers." A gen- 
eral assessment, which continued for six weeks, was 
therefore levied to support them, Isaack's portion 
being two florins weekly. 

Stuyvesant then went into retirement, although Nno York 
he did not leave Manhattan, and Colonel NicoUs 

^ N.Y. Colonial Documents, vol. ii, p. 502. 

[ 139 ] 



Isaack de Forest 



New York bccamc the govcmof. Governor NicoUs after the oc- 
cupation did all he could to appease the people. The 
Dutch magistrates were continued in office, and the 
Dutch land patents were confirmed. In fact, NicoUs 
was a wise and conciliatory ruler, but the Hollanders 
naturally liked their own ways the best and it took 
them a long time to get used to a province and city 
named New York and to a mayor, aldermen, and 
sheriff instead of their accustomed schout, burgo- 
masters, and schepens. Many who" could not re- 
concile themselves to the change returned to Hol- 
land. Isaack took the oath of allegiance, as did most 
of his friends and family, but there is no record of 
his ever having held public office under the English. 
NmAmsurdam The newcomers did not very long hold undis- 
turbed possession of New York. On July 29, 1673, 
nine years after they had captured it, an alarm was 
given that twenty-one Dutch vessels, including nine 
men-of-war, were off Staten Island and were pre- 
paring for an attack. All the inhabitants, most of 
whom were, of course, in sjmipathy with the in- 
vaders, knew that both soldiers and defenses were 
ridiculously inadequate and that there was really 
nothing with which to protect the city. A show of 
resistance was made, however, both sides firing for 
"about an hour,*' and then the Dutch soldiers 
landed on the North River shore, preparatory to 
marching on the fort. They were received with 
great enthusiasm by the Dutch inhabitants. One 

[ HO ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

account says that they were met by 4xx) burghers lieto Ansurdam 
"all armed/' while an English record tells us that 
the Dutch hastened to welcome their fellow-coun- 
trymen "with all the demonstrations of joy which 
they could make." 

We presume that Isaack was among the rejoicing 
burghers — in spirit, if not in actual demonstration, 
for it is known that he was "sickly" at this time. 
He never reached the appointed limit of threescore 
years and ten; men lived hard in those days and he 
had had many trials as well as blessings. His life in 
his adopted country had been honorable and its 
end was near. 

On the fourth of June, 1672, "being Tuesday in 
the morning, about 9 o'clock," an affecting incident 
in the history of Isaack and Sara his wife took place, 
probably in their own "best room." They were in 
consultation with William Bogardus, the notary 
public. The subject under discussion was the mak- 
ing of a joint will, each testator wishing to leave 
everything to the one who should survive, a cus- 
tomary arrangement in those days. 

In the "public Instrument" then drawn up, 
Dutch copies of which are still to be found in the 
New York Hall of Records and at Albany, Bogardus 
began by noting the following facts: "Appeared in 
their own persons Mr. Isaack fforeest. Brewer of 
this city and Sarah Truix, his lawfull wife, knowne 
to me notaris. The Testator sickly and the Testa- 

[ HI ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

half of the deceased parent's portion with the express Nm Anuterdam 

condition that the remaining parent was to enjoy 

the income thereof until each child should "come 

to their age or wedlock," at which time each was to 

receive his or her just proportion. Until this time 

the survivant should be obliged "to maintain the 

said children honestly, providing them with victuals 

and clothes, causing their schooling for reading and 

writing, alsoe to cause them to learn an art or trade 

whereby they may live when shall come their age." 

The guardians mentioned, who were to act with 

the survivant, were Mr. Jacob Kip, their " cosin," * 

and Mr. Symon Johns Romejm, their "trusty and 

known friend." 

Little remains to complete the story of Isaack's 
life so far as we can know it. July 25, 1674, two 
years after Isaack had made his will, he was men- 
tioned for the last time on the court records. His 
case was postponed till the next court day, probably 
because of illness on his part. At any rate, we know 
that he died soon afterward, aged fifty-six; and al- 
though we do not know the exact day of his death, 
it must have been between July 25, 1674, and Sep- 
tember 26th of the same year, for on the latter date 
Sara was spoken of as Isaack's widow. 

His death was without doubt immediately fol- 
lowed, according to custom, by the tolling of the 

^ He had married Maria, daughter of Johannes La 
Montagne. 

[ 143] 



Isaack de Forest 



NewJmsurdam church bell, which was the signal for the ''aan- 

spreecker," or funeral inviter, to start on his rounds, 
announcing the day and hour of the funeral and bid- 
ding relatives and friends to attend. Such was the 
etiquette in those days that no one would have 
thought of attending a funeral without an invita- 
tion. The "aanspreecker" was attired in gloomy 
black — knee breeches, long cloak, shoe buckles, and 
a cocked hat from which fluttered long streamers 
of black crape. 

Meanwhile great preparations would be in prog- 
ress in Isaack's late home. At that time, the serv- 
ices were always held in the house of the deceased. 
Beer was provided in abundance, half a barrel or 
more, with rum besides for the men and Madeira 
for the women. There were also the "doodkoecken," 
sweet cakes with caraway seeds in them, which 
were invariably served at every proper funeral, 
and which Sara and her daughters probably pre- 
pared. Tobacco and pipes must not be forgpt- 
ten, for they were indispensable. Even the domine 
smoked as he sat beside the coflin in the ^'best 



room." 



After the services the friends who were privileged 
to be bearers carried Isaack on his bier to the grave. 
Later, according to custom, each bearer received 
some kind of memento of the deceased. Sometimes 
this was a funeral ring, but more often a spoon with 
a head or figure on the handle. We know from the 

[ H4 ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

records that such spoons were given at the time of Nm Amsterdam 
his brother Hendrick's burial. 

The interment was undoubtedly in the "Old 
Grave Yard" of the Dutch church, where Hendrick 
had very probably been buried by Domine Bogardus 
in 1637, although no church records seem to be 
extant for that early date. The graveyard was 100 
feet square and was situated on the west side of 
Broadway, north of Morris Street (now Nos. 3 1-37 
Broadway). Even in 1674, when Isaack was buried 
there, it was in a state of great neglect, and three 
years later the city voted to discontinue its use. The 
bodies were then removed and it was divided into 
four city lots and sold. 

Was Isaack a rich man? In 1664 he was spoken of 
as one of the "most affluent inhabitants of the city," 
and once he was assessed 100 florins "for the defense 
of the city," while no one was assessed more than 200 
florins. At another time he sent to Holland a cargo 
of tobacco worth 1000 guilders. Yet the estate dis- 
closed by the will so lovingly and quaintly worded 
was apparently small. It was estimated at only 1,500 
guilders (^600), while those of other citizens of the 
time were placed as high as 50,000 or even 80,000 
guilders. Now 1,500 guilders seems an incredibly 
small estimate for the value of Isaack's estate, 
especially in view of his large commercial and real 
estate transactions. The sum mentioned must surely 
be a mistake, since shortly after his death the new 

[145] 



Isaack de Forest 



New Amsurdam English rulcrs of Ncw York placed the ^^ estimated 

wealth of his widow Sarah de Foreest" at 12,000 
guilders (^800). For this and other reasons it seems 
likely that Isaack's estate should have been put at 
15,000 instead of 1,500 guilders. Isaack probably 
had about enough on which to live comfortably, to 
endow his daughter when she married, and to aid 
his sons when they started in business for them* 
selves. 

He had lived at the period when the New World 
was being developed and civilized, and he himself 
had aided in its development. When he moved into 
Niew Amsterdam in 1643, it had about 400 male 
inhabitants ; at the time of his death in 1674 ^^ 
number could not have been much less than 4,000. 
He had dwelt under many flags. The son of Wal- 
loon parents, he had spent his childhood in Holland, 
had then come to New Amsterdam as a "freeman" 
under Dutch rule, had continued to live there under 
the English administration, and was then once again 
governed by the Dutch, who might almost be con- 
sidered in the light of his foster-parents. He did not 
live quite long enough to witness the third change of 
rulers in New Amsterdam, which took place when 
the country of his adoption, after being held by the 
Dutch for fourteen months only, was formally sur- 
rendered to the English on November 10, 1674, in 
accordance with a treaty between Holland and 
England. 

[ 146 ] 



Founder of the Family in America 

Isaack's widow^ Sara du Trieux,^ lived in the NewAmsurdam 
Brouwer Straet house * for eighteen years after his 
death but never remarried, and on November 9, 
1692, being then about sixty-seven years old, she 
followed her husband. 

A difficulty at once arose regarding the disposition 
of Sara du Trieux's estate. As a result of the joint 
will, there had never been any necessity for adminis- 
trators during her life, but the case was different now 
that she too was gone, and the children therefore, 
in December, 1692, petitioned Governor Fletcher of 
New York that two of Isaack's sons might be ap- 
pointed to this position. Accordingly, on December 
19, 1692, letters of administration were granted to 
Johannes and Henry, the two eldest sons who then 
lived in the city. 

As all of the seven children who survived her were 
grown and some of them had children of their own, a 
distribution of their mother's estate seemed advis- 
able. Consequently, on May 2, 1693, six months 
after Sara's death, the house on Brouwer Straet in 
which the family had lived for nearly forty years, was 
sold by the children to Harman Rutgers, a brewer 
from Albany. 

Thus must "Finis" be written after the names of 

* In the church record she is spoken of as ** Sarah Philips," 
a usual Dutch method of indicating that her father's name 
was Philip. 

* The Produce Exchange on Stone Street now covers the 
site of Isaack's house and garden. 

[ 147] 



Isaack de Forest 



Nm Anuterdam the honorable Great Burgher Isaack de Forest and 

his wife Sara du Trieux. And to had Jesse's dream 
at last come true, for his son and his son's sons were 
at home in the New World. 



^/^^rT^p^t^^-^c.f^ 



V 

DAVID DE FOREST 

The ConnecticiU Pioneer 

DAVID, the fourteenth and youngest chfld of Nm Amsuriam 
Isaack de Forest and Sara du Trieux, was 
bom in 1669 and was therefore five years 
old when his father died. He was the third of the 
name among Isaack's children, two Davids (one 
bom in 1663 and one in 1666) having preceded him. 
The record of his baptism is still to be seen in the 
register of the Church in the Fort, and on a certain 
old deed his signature is almost as black as when he 
wrote it; but otherwise we find few traces of him in 
the annals of New York. 

This deed concerns a piece of land which had be- 
longed to Mistress Judith Stuyvesant, wife of Peter 
Stuyvesant, and which was in 1692 transferred by 
her children to Nicholas Bayard, the old New York 
merchant. On the deed David's name appears in 
gpod company, the other witnesses being Philip 
Schuyler, A. De Peyster (Mayor of New York), 
Peter King, and other men equally prominent. 

In the " Petition from the children of Isaacq de 
Foreest" to Governor Fletcher (December, 1692) 
concerning their mother's estate, he was one of "ye 
Petits." His signature on the deed is " Davyd " and 

[ H9 ] 



David de Forest 



New Amsterdam on thc petition "Davydt." Thus his French name 

was given a Dutch spelling. 

David was not made an administrator, possibly 
. because he was the youngest (he was then but 
twenty-three), possibly because he was at that time 
planning to leave the city. The death of his mother 
may have weakened the home tie, or he may have 
felt that New York, even at that early day, was be- 
coming overcrowded and that there was lack of op- 
portunity in it for a vigprous young man. 
Stratford Be that as it may, David left the city of his birth, 
probably in 1694, ^"i^ started for Connecticut in a 
row-boat, according to tradition ! Let us hope that it 
had at least an adjustable mast and sail to aid him 
on his perilous voyage through the wild waters of 
the Hellegat and the varying tides of Long Island 
Sound I In due time he reached the Housatonic 
River, and after rowing one and a half miles up- 
stream to a little creek which wound its way among 
grassy sedges on the western shore, he came to the 
young and prosperous town of Stratford. 

A few words about the founding of this place, 
which has been called a "de Forest hearthstone," 
may not be amiss. "Cupheag," as the territory was 
called by its Indian owners, was destined to become 
one of the earliest "plantations" in the Connecticut 
Colony. In May, 1637, the representatives of this 
colony, then assembled at Hartford, decided that a 
war of extermination should be waged against the 

[ '50] 



THE CREEK, WHERE DAVID, ACCORDING TO TRADITION, LANDED 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

Pequot Indians, wbo had been harassing the colon- Stm^M 
ists in a quite intolerable manner. Seventy-seven of 
the settlers therefore sallied forth, and after various 
minor fights succeeded in destroying the Pequots at 
their stronghold in a swamp near the site of the pres* 
ent town of Fairfield. During their march the colcm- 
ists noticed the lovely and fertile country throu^ 
which they passed and some o[ them then deter- 
mined to return and make a setdement osl the 
**goodly land of Cupheag.** 

According^, in 1639 — two years after the expedi- 
ticm against the Indians, nineteen years after the 
Pilgrim Fathers had landed at Plymouth, and at about 
the time when the de Forestswerebuildingtheir houses 
and cultivatingtheir bouweries at Muscoota — seveiH 
teen families, who had travelled, overland probably, 
under the leadership of their pastor, the Rev. Adam 
Blakeman, arrived to take possession of Cupheag. 
They were members of the Connecticut Colony,^ the 
'' Puritans'' of the original Massachusetts Bay Com- 
pany, and had come from Hartford and Wethersfidd. 
. The Rev. Thcxnas Hooker, one of their leaders, in 
1638 had preached a remarkable semion, in which he 
said : '^The choice of public magistrates belongs unto 
the people by God's own allowance.'* When, there- 
fore, the same year the Connecticut Colony adopted 

_ * 

1 This must not be confused with the New Haven Colony, 
which was an entirely separate organization, the two colonies 
not being united until 1662. 

[151] 



David de Forest 



Sttaiford 2i Constitution, it was more liberal than that of the 
other colonies. Heretofore only church members had 
been allowed to take any part in the gpvemment, 
but the constitution now gave to all who took the 
oath of allegiance to the commonwealth the right to 
vote for the governor, legislature, and magistrates. 

The plantation of Stratford was under the rule of 
the Connecticut Colony until 1662, when a new 
charter was granted by Charles II to the united 
colonies of Connecticut and New Haven. Under this 
charter the gpvemment was placed in the hands of 
a so-called "General Assembly." This Assembly 
was to meet semi-annually and was "to consist of 
the governor, deputy-governor and twelve assistants 
with the more popular element of two deputies from 
.each town or city." ^ It was all-powerful and it 
constituted a system of gpvemment which was in 
the main satisfactory, as the colonists really ruled 
themselves, though they were nominally subject to 
the crown of Great Britain. 

Unfortunately the earliest records of Stratford, 
those before 165 1, are missing, and it is supposed 
that they were destroyed by fire.^ It is known, how- 

^ Hollister, Gideon H. Connecticut History, vol. i, p. 209. 

* Even the town records of a later date are very difficult 
to decipher. The scribes were extremely economical in the 
matter of paper and the last five or six lines on a page are 
usually so closely crowded together as to be almost illegible. 
Some of the early records have to be read through a thin silk 
with which they have been covered in order to preserve 
them. 



[ 152] 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

ever, that the first settlers built their houses at Sandy Streiford 
Hollow, in the southern part of the present town. 

The original township of Stratford, situated in a 
beautiful tract of country already partly cleared and 
cultivated by the Indians, was twelve miles long 
from north to south and seven miles wide, which ter- 
ritory is now included in the townships of Stratford, 
Huntington, Trumbull, Monroe, and part of Bridge- 
port. The subdivisions of Stratford township were 
made later. 

When the colonists took possession of the land, 
they laid out the new town on a liberal scale, with 
broad streets and a road (a mere "trail" at that 
time), called the "King's Highway," leading to 
Fairfield, a settlement which was begun only a few 
months after that of Stratford. They then located 
village plots and distributed them by the drawing of 
lots; hence came the name of "home lot," or, after a 
house was built upon it, "house lot." A home lot of 
about two and one-half acres was assigned to each 
settler, with a piece of meadow and a piece of upland 
for planting. A large part of the land, most of it 
virgin forest, was undivided and unassigned and was 
called "the common lands." ^ 

* The "Common Field" was cultivated land owned by 
many or all of the proprietors and for reasons of economy 
surrounded by a general fence, each owner paying his pro- 
portion of the cost. There were, in fact, two common 
fields: the *'01d Field" to the south of Stratford and the 
"New Field" somewhat farther north. 

[ 153 ] 



David de Forest 



Sifi^ord Shortly after their arrival, the newcomers built a 
meeting-house of logs — a "Church of Christ," as 
they called it — necessarily of the simplest con- 
struction, but it boasted a most useful and at that 
time unusual possession, a bell. This bell was 
brought from England and is said to have been the 
earliest one in Connecticut. We can imagine the 
pride with which the church members obeyed its 
summons, while other less favored congregations 
were called to worship by drum beat or by the blow- 
ing of a conch shell. The first settlers built their 
houses close around this meeting-house, which in 
those uncertain times was not infrequently used as a 
refuge against attacks of the Indians. 

In 1680, before the time of David's arrival, a 
new church had been built, cm Watch-house Hill, 

some distance 

site of the first 
structure, fac- 
ing down Front 
Street — now 
called Elm — 
toward Sandy Hollow. This was a larger building 
than the old log meeting-house, measuring 48 by 
42 feet, and was "fortified for security of w6men 
and children." 

In it the congregation was seated according to 
rank and age. "Firstly, Magistrates and Conmiis- 

[^54] 




The Connecticut Pioneer 

sion Officers, according to their place of dignity. Stfo^ord 
Secondly, all persons past the age of sfixty years 
should be accounted honorable, notwithstanding 
their payments, and seated accordingly. Thirdly, all 
other persons under the age of sixty years should be 
seated according to their disbursements and pay- 
ments." Later, when galleries were built, the order 
for seating there read : **The west side gallery with 
married men, the east side married women, and 
ancient bachelors and ancient maides the second 
seats." 

The services were long, especially the sermon, at 
the beginning of which the minister tumed the hour- 
glass, and it is hardly surprising that the boys be- 
came unruly and that it was necessary to appoint 
an officer " to watch over the disorderly persons in 
the meeting, and to use his discretion in striking any 
whom he finds so disorderly." After the sermon the 
presiding deacon rose and made proclamation, ''As 
God hath prospered you, so freely give." Each 
member of the congregation then went forward in the 
order of his rank or office and handed his contribu- 
tion to the deacon. 

There was no silver alms basin in which the deacon 
could receive the gifts ; such basins were costly and 
were rarely used in early New England, but the 
"First Church of Christ" in Stratford owned com- 
munion silver a-plenty. The accompanying photo- 
graph shows three of the most beautiful pieces — a 



David de Forest 



Sfratford chalice and two caudle cups. The chalice was made 
by Jeremiah Dummer * of Boston (1645-1718) and 
was undoubtedly in use when David lived in Strat- 
ford. Perhaps it was given when the new church was 
built in i680y for Dummer made silver prior to that 
date. 

Church attendance was compulsory, or, at any 
rate, non-attendance was stemly punished. It is 
recorded that one man received a severe public 
whipping because he had stayed in bed instead of 
attending church while his only suit of clothes, then 
soaking wet, was being dried. Another was accused 
of "gaily staying at home, without any work of 
necessity or mercy obliging him thereto.'* 

The church was the most important factor in the 
village life. In it was found the one relaxation (if 
attendance at service could be so called) from the 
arduous duties of the week. The sermon was the 
chief subject of conversation at every fireside until 
the ensuing Sabbath fumished a new one, and woe 



^ Almost all the old church silver in Connecticut was 
made by Boston silversmiths. This was undoubtedly due to 
the fact that there was constant friction between the New 
Englanders and the Dutch of Manhattan, so that the Con* 
necticut parishes preferred to send all the way to Boston 
rather than to purchase silver from their obnosdous neigh- 
bors. 

In the Puritan churches of Connecticut, prior to 1724, 
caudle cups were used almost entirely for the communion 
service rather than the chalices which were in use in the 
Church of England, which church the Puritans abhorred. 



[156] 



COMMUNION CHALICE AND CAUDLE CUPS, PROBABLY MADE BEFORE I7OO 
Own»d by the Fitjt Churth of ChrUt, Sctaiford 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

be to the minister whose theology did not come up s^o^M 
to the standards of his congregation ! ^ 

At the time of David's arrival the minister of the 
meeting-house was the Reverend Israel Chauncey, 
his predecessor, Adam Blakeman, having died some 
years before. Israel Chauncey, son of the second 
president of Harvard College and himself a graduate 
from that institution in 1661, was a remarkable man, 
of whom it was said, ^' It was an untold blessmg to 
be under his influence." He might have been termed 
a ''medical missionary," for he studied medicine in 
order to attend to the physical as well as to the 
spiritual wants of his beloved people. He was in- 
stalled in the Stratford church in 1665, when he was 
only twenty-one years of age, and for thirty-eight 
years he was its pastor. He was one of the founders 
of Yale College and in November, 1701, was chosen 
to be its first Rector or President. This honor he was, 
however, obliged to decline, owing to failing health.* 

•The early history of the de Forest family in Con- 
necticut is interwoven with that of Stratford, and 

^ Needless to say, the church in Stratford was Congrega- 
tional. The village contained no Episcopal church until 1707 
and the one then built was the first of the denomination in 
the State of Connecticut. 

* The Rev. Charles Chauncey (son of the Rev. Israel) was 
bom in Stratford in 1668 and was therefore about David's 
age; he followed his father's profession and was one of the 
youngest of the twelve clergymen who in 1708 formulated 
the "Saybrook Platform.'* 

[ ^17 ] 



David de Forest 



Stratford many of its members married the descendants of 
some of the eariiest settlers of that township, the 
makers of the Plantation. Several of their names 
will become very familiar to us as we follow the 
story of the de Forests and so it seems appropriate 
to mention a few of them here.* 

Among the original colonists was Francis Nichols, 
a man emment in the conmiunity and its first mili- 
tary officer; one of the duties of " Sergeant Nichols'* 
was '^ to train the men and exercise them in military 
discipline," 

John Peat (or Peet), who was probably among the 
earliest comers, was the first sexton of the meeting- 
house. It was the duty of "Goodman Peake*' to 
ring the church bell and "to take care of boys who 
were unruly during worship." As he also rang the 
curfew bell "at nine of the clock" every evening, 
he could hardly have been very popular with the 
young people. 

Moses Wheeler, who was bom in England in 1598, 
was one of the first grantees of land in Stratford. 
His trade was that of shipwright ; but when a ferry 
over the Housatonic River was at an early day 
established, he became its first lessee. This ferry 
was an important one, inasmuch as it formed a link 
in the post-road between New York and Boston. 



^ The facts given in the following biographical sketches 
are taken from Rev. Samuel Orcutt's History of Stratford 
and Bridgeport. 



[ 158] 



MOSES WHEELER S COURT CUPBOARD, MADE DURING THE LATTER HALF 

OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 

Ovrnnl by Mn. Timothy Dwight, New HiTCn 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

Its charges were fixed by a law which read, " Femed Strat/M 
over for one half-penny per person, two-pence per 
horse or beast/' — not a large enough charge, one 
would think, to enable any one to amass a fortune, 
and yet enough to induce at least three generations 
of Wheelers to continue to lease and operate the 
ferry during a period of about a century.^ Moses 
Wheeler died in 1698, when one hundred years old, 
and his gravestone is perfectly legible even now in 
the old burying-ground at Stratford. 

Joseph Hawley owned a home lot in Stratford in 
1650 or earlier. He was a shipping merchant and 
one of the most prominent business men of the town ; 
he both built and owned ships, made important 
purchases of land from the Indians, and was fre- 
quently chosen one of the two representatives sent 
by Stratford to the Connecticut General Assembly. 
He was also the tavem-keeper, in those days a most 
honorable vocation. 

John Beach came to Stratford in 1660, purchased 
one of the original plots, ''one house lot 2 acres," 
and in 1671 was appointed auctioneer, the old re- 
cord reading: "John Beach was chosen crier for the 
town, and to be allowed four pence for everything 
he cries ; that is to say for all sorts of cattle and all 
other things of smaller value/* 

^ The first bridge across the Housatonic at Stratford was 
not built until 1800, and the road leading to the old ferry is 
still caUed the "Feny Road." 

[ 159] 



David de Forest 



Stratford Two Other somewhat younger sons of Stratford 
became eminent and added to her fame. The Rev. 
Samuel Johnson, who graduated from Yale College 
in 1714, became in 1723 one of the earliest ministers 
of the Episcopal church in Stratford. In 1754 he 
was elected the first president of King's College, 
New York, later called Columbia College. Of his 
son, the Hon. William Samuel Johnson, bom in 
Stratford in 1727, the town had every reason to be 
proud. A graduate of Yale in 1744, he became ere 
long one of the leading men of the country. Many 
important political positions were given to him and 
he was one of the three representatives from Con- 
necticut at the first Continental Congress, held in 
New York in 1765. With Roger Sherman and Oliver 
Ellsworth, he was appointed a delegate from Con- 
necticut in 1787 to aid in the great work of framing 
a constitution for the United States. The same year 
he became the fourth President of King's College — 
a position which he filled with great honor until 1800, 
retiring afterward to his beloved Stratford home. 

These sketches describe only a few of the eminent 
men who came to Stratford when the plantation 
was first started or who had their birth in the old 
town and added to her fame. They tell nothing of 
the affection in which her sons and daughters held 
"Old Stratford," a name by which she was lovingly 
called even when she was as yet quite young. To 
this day the town has a very quaint and distinctive 

[ 160 ] , 




MAP OF A PART OF STRATFORD, CONNECTICUT, ADAPTED FROM THE 

EARLIEST KNOWN MAP, 1 824 

1 . House of David de Forest 

2. House of John Peat 

3. House of Samuel Peat and Samuel de Foreit 

4. Old Barn of Moses Wheeler 

5. First Meeting-House 

6. Second Meeting-House 

7. Third Meeting-House 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

atmosphere. The streets stretching with their broad Stra^ord 
grassy sward beneath beautiful arching elms are 
much as they were when first laid out. No bustle 
disturbs their quiet, and few strangers are to be seen 
in them. The old Green is still on Watch-house Hill 
(although some people now call it Academy Hill) 
and a somewhat newer plot, farther uptown, is yet 
known by the old name of Paradise Green. In many 
instances the old families continue to live in the old 
homes. Salt-box houses still abound; stair-cases 
still cling against the huge old central chimneys; 
bull's-eyes in the upper panels of front doors still 
furnish light as of old to tiny entries; and old-fash- 
ioned ladies with exquisite old-time hospitality still 
offer dandelion wine. 

But we must no longer keep poor David standing, 
as it were, with one foot in his boat and one on the 
shore of the creek. We wish we had more details of 
the arrival and early life in Stratford of this young 
man. The first act of which we have any documen- 
tary knowledge is his marriage to Martha, daughter 
of Samuel Blagge. 

To begin the history of David and Martha in an 
orderly manner we must first tell something of her 
father.^ Tradition says that the name of Samuel 

^ It has been asserted that Samuel Blagge of Stratford 
was identical with Samuel Blagge of New York; but this is 
hardly probable for several reasons, one reason being that 

[ i6i ] 



1 



David de Forest 



Stfotfwd Blagge's wife was Mary Boutel or Bontel, and we 
know that their family consisted of three sons and 
a daughter, Martha. Samuel was a merchant in 
Stratford; the first definite information we have 
about him is that he bought a certain part of the old 
meeting-house when it was torn down and sold at 
auction in 1681. Some of its old timbers (which 
Samuel did not buy) are said to be still in use as 
sills and sleepers in a house which is near the old 
site. Over two hundred and seventy years of service ! 

The following year, 1682, he also became pos- 
sessed of four acres of orchard on the high land just 
back of Stratford, even then known by the name of 
Clapboard Hill. This orchard plot he decided to 
divide among his four children and in 1685 by formal 
deed gave to each one an acre. Therefore when 
Martha became the bride of David de Forest, she 
was already a landed proprietor. 

David and Martha were probably married in 
11696, when David was twenty-six and Martha 
twenty-four, but not by the Reverend Israel 
Qiauncey, for the minister never performed the 
ceremony in those early days. A magistrate or a 
tavern keeper or a captain or any other man of 
sufficiently important standing in the community 

the latter was rated in the New York tax list of 1676 at 
£1,000, while David's father-in-law, we know, was living 
in Stratford very simply before 1681, and when he died in 
1720 he left an estate of only £48. 



[ 162] 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

could receive authority to marry a couple^ but a stratfwd 
minister could not do so; that is^ not until the early 
part of the eighteenth century. Nor could Goodman 
Pickett pull the bell rope in their honor^ although 
he was younger than his predecessor^ old Goodman 
Peake, had been, and could have pulled it all the 
more lustily. No such thing was allowable then, for 
only the minister was ever married in the meeting- 
house. 

But David and Martha were married, for all that, 
and in January, 1697, a little daughter was bom to 
them. She was named Mary after Grandmother 
Blagge. Shortly after the birth of this little girl, 
David and his wife (possibly because of the new 
responsibilities which had come to them) "cove- 
nanted and were baptized " in the Stratford meeting- 
house, although David had already been baptized, 
as we know, in the old Dutch church in New York. 

According to old traditions, David's first home 
was in a tiny house on the creek near the spot where 
he first landed, but after little Mary came to them 
in 1697 and little Sarah (who was named for Grand- 
mother de Forest) in 1698, this house became inade- 
quate and David looked about to see what he could 
do. It happened that there was then for sale in 
Stratford property which quite met David's re- 
quirements. A certain house lot, formerly owned 
by Isaac Nichols and later by Richard Bryan, who 
had then recently died, was offered for sale by the 

[ 163 ] 



David de Forest 



Stratford lattcr's daughter. The property consisted of three 
fourths of an acre, situated at the intersection of 
Beardsley Avenue, Stratford Avenue, and Lundy's 
Lane, just opposite where the gate of the New Field 
was on Beardsley Avenue. It included "a certain 
Dwelling house and orchajrd,*' all of which David 
bought for £26. 

The plot lay not far from Clapboard Hill, which 
was a convenient situation for David, as he already 
owned land there. Martha, as has been told, owned 
an acre of orchard on that hill before her marriage, 
and shortly afterward David bought from his father- 
in-law for a "valuable sum of money'' another acre 
which had come into the latter's possession in some 
way. David was still hungry for land. He bought 
several tracts adjoining his own home, also part of a 
salt meadow, and several acres at Old Squaw's in 
the direction of Fairfield, so that he became a con- 
siderable landholder. 

As for the house, that was apparently a magni- 
ficent mansion for those times. A graphic descrip- 
tion of it has been handed down to us in Major De 
Forest's book. "It was a roomy wooden dwelling 
with two huge stone chimneys, a short entrance-hall 
in the centre abutting upon a cross stairway, and 
apartments of good size below and above, while two 
wings in the rear furnished space for cooking, wash- 
ing, kindling-wood and other household stores. The 
windows were large and sheltered by inner shutters, 

[ ^64] 



DOORWAY OF THE WOOSTER HOUSE 



HOUSE ON THE HOUSATONIC RIVER ROAD, WHERE GENERAL DAVID 

WOOSTER WAS BORN IN I7IO 

9AID TO BE AN EXACT REPRODUCTION OF DAVID DI FDREIT'i HOUSE 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

pierced in the lower story by a circle, in the second Stratford 
story by a heart. All the interior work was more or 
less carved ; one authority says * handsomely carved ' ; 
but perhaps mere panelling and moulding. It is 
worth adding that grandchildren of David De 
Forest put up dwellings on precisely this plan of 
architecture and ornament." It is also asserted that 
a large ball-room with deep window seats occupied 
one entire end of the second story. ^ 

The house on Stratford Avenue was well furn- 
ished. It contained four-post bedsteads, each with 
a strong cord, which being laced back and forth on 
the frame took the place of a modem spring; also 
iron curtain rods, a feather bed, a bolster, two pU- 
lows, two homespun blankets, and a coverlet. To 
the best bed belonged in addition a set of blue cur- 
tains, valances, and a "blue rugge," probably one 
of the blue-and-white checkered bedspreads then 
largely used and much prized in New England.* 
We should much like to know something about the 
**Shagge" rug, valued in the inventory at the high 

4 , ■ ■ I . 

^ David's old home was torn down long ago, but a house 
which is said to be ah exact replica of it is still to be seen 
on the River Road about four miles north of Stratford. A 
recent photograph of this house is shown. It was built in 
1706, and in it in 1710 General David Wooster of Revolu- 
tionary fame was bom. 

' These are still made in some of the Southern States and 
the quaint names of the old designs are still used — Log Cabin, 
Love in a Tangle, Chariot Wheels, Cat Track and Snail Trail, 
Young Men's Fancy, Queen's Victory, and many others, j 

[ 165 ] 



David de Forest 



Stratford price of £i.io. David possessed a brass warming- 
pan which was most useful; for even feather beds 
needed heating in those bitterly cold houses, where 
the sap froze in the fireplace as it oozed out of the 
log; there were " chests'' in the rooms (probably 
"chests of drawers'*) and tables; on the walls hung 
pictures and large looking-glasses, as well as small 
ones, perhaps such as were then called "courting 
mirrors/' There were, besides, cane chairs, black 
chairs, leather chairs, and some that were called 
just "chairs." ^ 

It does not take long to eniunerate the books in 
David's library, for they were few in number. Three 
Bibles — none too many for father, mother, and 
their ten children — a "Salm Boock," and a "Sar- 
mond Boock." These were all, except two which 
were called in the inventory " Duch Bucks," prob- 
ably relics of Father Isaack and brought by him 
when he came as a Dutch emigrant from Leyden to 
New Amsterdam in 1637. They are not called Dutch 
"Bibles" in the inventory, as has been erroneously 
stated in other records, but they may have been 
Bibles, for all that. In Scotland the Bible was often 
alluded to as "The Book," and the Dutch may have 
used the same word to designate it. 



^ One of these chairs, a rocking chair, is still in use and is 
owned by one of David's descendants who lives in Stratford 
not far from the site of the old home where it was used so 
many years ago. 



[ 166] 



' -.•: 



^ ^v .rp- 









nJ • : 'i' 















CHAIR FORMERLY BELONGING TO DAVID DE FOREST 
Owoed by Min Marr Alice Curtii, Stntfoid 



The Connecticut Pioneer 



There were a *' quill wheel and swifts/* ^ a Stra^ord 
"small wheel" for spinning flax, a "great wheel" 
for wool, and a loom and weaver's reeds for weaving 
woolen articles — rugs for the beds or tables and 
homespun cloth for winter clothing, as well as the 
homespun linen of which so much was needed for 
the household. 

The supply of sheets of various kinds was plentiful : 
linen, hoUand (imported linen), cotton, and tow; 
hoUand "pillow-beers" (as pillow-cases were called) ; 
also table-cloths — a best damask one with napkins 
and others of homespun linen and of tow. At about 
this time pewter began to replace the wooden ware 
of earlier years, and a goodly array was on hand: 
a tankard, together with several basins, dishes, 
plates, porringers, and a baker (beaker), all of which 
many a collector would covet nowadays. 

A chafing dish was presumably reserved for 
Martha's use. We should like to know what the 
old New England dames prepared in their chafing 
dishes I The every-day food was cooked in pots and 
kettles which hung from the crane in the great open 
fireplace in the kitchen or was baked in the big stone 
oven; and here in the kitchen were used, besides 
minor cooking utensils, the "great brass kittle," 
valued at £5. 14.6, and the "great Iron Pot," £1.5.10. 

* A "swift" was a revolving wheel upon which skeins* of 
yam or thread were placed for winding; "quills" were small 
pieces of reed on which thread was wound ready for weaving. 

[ ^67 ] 



David de Forest 



Siratiwd What business enabled David to maintain this 
large house and his ever-increasing family? We 
must remember that his father Isaack had directed 
in his will that each of the children should be taught 
a trade, and David had chosen to become a glazier. 
He must certainly have had some other and more 
remunerative occupation; for although the families 
in Stratford numbered about two hundred when he 
came there to live (as against the original seventeen 
of sixty years before), even two hundred families 
could hardly enable a glazier to support the ten 
children who were bom, in rather rapid succession, 
to David and Martha. It is evident that he was also 
a merchant and dealt in many articles besides glass ; 
for we find records of his having for sale " colored 
linen, calico, damask, rum, molasses, silver buttons 
and calimanco" (a glossy woolen satin stuff, bro- 
caded on one side only). Some of these articles he 
traded with Joseph Booth, the tanner, in exchange 
for shoes for his wife, "biggest girl," "least child," 
and "boy" (possibly David's son Samuel, in whom 
we shall be especially interested by and by). The 
price of men's shoes then varied from seven shil- 
lings "plain" to nine shillings "with heels and 
straps." 

Besides his business David had famiing matters to 
attend to. We know that he had a lot in the Com- 
mon Field ; for he had been obliged to supply one rod 
four feet and six inches of the common fence, and at 

[ i68] 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

one time he had a number of cattle, as many as strmford 
four cows and a calf, two two-year-olds, a yearling, 
several pigs, eight "small swine," and twenty-eight 
sheep. These were undoubtedly tumed loose to fend 
for themselves in the forests of the Common Lands, 
which everyone used for this purpose, but David of 
course had first to "earmark his creatures." His 
registered mark was "a cross on ye top of each ear 
and a halfpeny on the fore side of the farr ear." He 
owned four horses and two colts — very necessary 
aids when one had to get about on horseback; there 
were saddles, too, and, to enable Martha to ride 
behind him, a pillion. 

What did David look like ? We wish we knew, and 
yet we can, with the data we have, reconstruct at 
least his costume with considerable accuracy. For 
workaday clothes he wore a coat and vest of "Du- 
roy " (corduroy) with breeches of striped hoUand and 
long worsted stockings. On his head was his periwig 
— not his best one, worth ten shillings, but his old 
one, valued at only two shillings. Periwigs were 
made of Indian- or horse-hair, and it was an expen- 
sive matter to keep them in order; for they were 
often quite imposing, with long curls which fell on 
the shoulders. David kept a supply of wig hair on 
hand for necessary repairs. 

On Sundays or when he was entertaining his 
friends in his grand ball-room or when his daughters 
were married, David's appearance was undoubtedly 

[ 169] 



David de Forest 



Stratford very imprcssivc. He then wore his best periwig; his 
coat, vest, and breeches of " French Drugit " ; a long 
muslin neckcloth wound round his neck; shoes with 
buckles ; at his side a small sword, and on his finger a 
gold ring. Then if perchance he stood up and played 
upon his violin for the amusement of the company, 
he must indeed have done honor to his fine house. 

Allusion is made above to the weddings of David's 
daughters. Two such joyful events took place whUe 
he was still with them. Sarah, the second daughter, 
was married on December 24, 1719, to Benjamin 
Lewis, Jr., son of a Benjamin Lewis who had come 
to Stratford when the town was young; and Mary, 
David's eldest child, on July 21, 1720, became the 
wife of Stephen Hawley, grandson of Joseph Hawley, 
also one of the earliest settlers. 

But these years were not altogether years of hap- 
piness; for in January, 1720, within a month 
after Sarah's marriage, Martha had lost her father, 
Samuel Blaggp. He was then an old man and had 
long been cared for by his two sons. His estate was 
small. The inventory enumerating the various items 
which ccxnprised it ends thus: "Now for a loving 
issue respecting said estate." As much of it was due 
to his sons for his maintenance and the pajmient 
of his debts, even the loving issue brought Martha as 
her share but fifty shillings. 

But a heavier loss than the death of her father was 
in store for Martha. In the spring of the next year 

[ ^70 ] 



STRATFORD ELMS AS THEY ARE 1 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

David was called upon to leave his wife and his many Stratford 
children. He was not an old man, only fifty-two years 
of age. That he had become a man of some conse- 
quence in the community is attested to, among 
other things, by the record in the Land Papers, 
which reads: "Mr. David De Forest departed this 
life April 20th, 1721.'' This prefix of "Mr." had a 
real significance in those days, designating a man of 
some importance, while " Esquire" indicated an even 
higher social position. 

The ten children were all living at the time of 
David's death ; and while several were grown up and 
some married, the youngest, little Benjamin — pos- 
sibly so named because, like the Benjamin of old, he 
was the darling of his father's heart — was but five 
years old. 

As David left no will, the estate was settled by 
the Court, which appointed "Mrs. Martha Defrees 
widow relict of the said deceased,"^ administratrix, 
and directed her to make an inventory of his belong- 
ings. A large part of David's estate consisted of 
land. The homestead and the house with its "hand- 
some carvings " were valued at only £70, a commen- 
tary on the scarcity of money in the early days of the 
colony. Other tracts of land were " Four acres lying 
at the Field Gate, £80."; "Three acres lying at a 
place called Old Squaws, £30."; "Three acres of 
Salt Meadow, £12."; and last, but not least, "One 

^ Probate Records of Stratford (at Fairfield, Conn.). 

[ 171 ] 



David de Forest 



Sifatford acre of orchard at Clapboard Hill^ £14/' This was 
the orchard that Samuel Blagge had sold to David 
shortly after his marriage. In the way of money there 
were but two items: £1.164 ^^^ ^^^ £6.16.8 paper 
money. 

Exclusive of the "setting out" already given by 
David to his two daughters, which constituted their 
portions, the dear estate amounted to about £300, 
no mean sum in those days.* The Court appointed 
Edmund Lewis and Robert Walker distributors, and 
they awarded to Martha "one third part of the mov- 
able estate to be her own forever and one third part 
of the housing and lands during her naturall life.''* 
The eldest son, David, was given, as was usual, a 
double portion, and the remaining children were to 
share alike. 

Martha did not remain long unmarried : nobody did 
in those days ; as soon as a woman became a widow, 
she was wooed by all the eligible bachelors and wid- 
owers. It is not astonishing, therefore, that Martha, 
notwithstanding her forty-four years and her ten 
children (five of them under fifteen years of age) 
should have accepted another husband, although this 
followed somewhat abruptly even for that practical 
period of our history. Seven months after David's 
death and before his estate was even settled, the vi- 
tal statistics record that "Mr. John Thompson & 
mis' Martha Deforest wid. was Joyned in mariage 

* Probate Records of Stratford (at Fairfield, Conn.). 

[ 172 ] 



The Connecticut Pioneer 

Nov' 30, 1721/' Lest Martha in her new happi- Stratford 
ness should be remiss in her duty to her children, 
her new husband, John Thompson, was obliged to 
''acknowledge himself bound in a Recognizance of 
£300 that sd. Martha shall faithfully discharge her 
Guardianship according to the Law/' 

All of David's children did well in the world and 
when they died left larger estates than that of their 
father. They all established themselves in Connecti- 
cut, chiefly in the neighborhood of Stratford, several 
of them travelling back through the wilderness and 
making homes for themselves in the new hill towns 
as they were organized.^ 

The members of the Walloon family had now 
settled down in the land of their adoption, devout, 
earnest, industrious men and women, living con- 
tentedly on the products of their labor. As simple 
New England farmer folk, they surely led a much 
more peaceful and happy life than had their forbears 
in the little walled city of Avesnes during the strenu- 
ous days of war and religious persecution which had 
finally driven them forth to seek a home in the New 
World. Was this the kind of life of which Jesse 
de Forest had dreamed? 

^ For an account of David's six sons and four daughters 
see Appendix, p. 290. 






VI 

SAMUEL DE FOREST 

Stratford /^AMUEL DE FOREST, David's second son, 

was born on April 4, 1704. His parents much 
desired to have him baptized immediately, as 
every new-bom baby in any well-organized eccle- 
siastical society should be; but how was this to be 
done when there was no regular pastor at Stratford 
between the years 1703 and 1709? The babies had 
to be " saved up," as it were, until a visiting pastor 
should appear. On July 23, 1704, the Rev. Charles 
Chauncey, son of the old Stratford parson, came 
over from his parish at Stratfie!d, and a very grand 
baptism took place, fourteen babies receiving their 
names on that day. 

Samuel was seventeen when his father died in 1721 ; 
two years later, on March 8, 1723, he "owned the 
covenant," as was expected from all well-brought- 
up boys. We know further that in his early days he 
fell in love with little Abigail, the young daughter 
of Samuel Peat, who lived by the "water side" in 
Stratford. 

The Peats were among the earliest settlers in 
Stratford and the history of their much-divided 
property concems our story. Moses Wheeler, the 
original Stratford ferryman, of whom we have al- 

[ 174] 



Samuel de Forest 



ready heard, from the time of his coming to Stratford Stfatfwd 
owned one of the choicest sites there. It was on the 
shore of the Housatonic where the land projected 
somewhat into the river, giving a most lovely view 
across the water to the south. This, his home lot, 
with three acres of land and his house, he had sold at 
an early date to a certain Richard Butler. The latter 
had two daughters, the younger of whom, Phebe 
Butler, married Benjamin Peat. On May 15, 1674, 
Richard Butler gave to his son-in-law, Benjamin 
Peat, the northem half of his home lot (that is, one 
and one half acres ^), for which Benjamin agreed in 
return to pay to Richard Butler twenty shillings a 
year during the latter's lifetime. 

Benjamin Peat on February 9, 1702, again sub- 
divided the lot, giving to his son Samuel (i 670-1 748), 
usually called "Jr.", the northem half of it, which 
contained about three quarters of an acre and in- 
cluded Moses Wheeler's original dwelling-house. In 
May, 1704, Benjamin Peat was gathered to his 
fathers, and his son Samuel continued for many years 
to occupy the house lot which his father had given 
him, but he evidently did not occupy it peaceably. 
There was dissension between members of the fam- 
ily, apparently about a well which was on the 

* Bounded "North with ye Street; East with ye Street; 
South with ye land of Richard Butler; West with land of 
John Peak Junr, &c." This term "&c/* represents a pond to 
the west of the property, for many years known as Peat's 
Pond, but now called Selby's. 



[ m] 



Samuel de Forest 



Stratford property; and at last in May, 1725, Phebe, Samuel's 
mother, "to prevent future trouble," gave him a 
deed "to ratify and confirm" his father's gift. 

The reason why Samuel Peat wanted the gift rati- 
fied is not far to seek. He had an only child, Abigail, 
then eighteen years old, who was about to wed 
Samuel de Forest. Abigail's father wished to divide 
his lot and give to his daughter and her husband one 
half of his three-quarter acre, with an absolutely 
dear title. Young de Forest's portion of his father's 
estate, which had just been distributed, was a plot 
seven rods wide, on the west side of the "Gate Lot," 
so that the young man already had land enough 
whereon to build a home for his bride; but Samuel 
Peat had set his heart on having his daughter live 
with him. The wedding took place December 30, 
1725, and thereafter the young people made their 
home with Abigail's father, who " for love and good 
will to my son-in-law Sam" Deforest and Abigail 
his wife," gave them on March 17, 1726, half of his 
already small lot. There they all lived together, the 
place being alluded to henceforth as the "house lot 
land of Samuel Peat and Samuel Deforest." Here 
four of Abigail's children were bom — Martha, 
1726; Mary, 1729; Joseph, 173 1; and Hepzibah, 

1734- 

Samuel de Forest seems to have wished to reas- 
semble the different plots which were originally 
included in the three acres acquired by Richard 

[ 176] 



Samuel de Forest 



Butler. In 1728 he bought for £30 the other half of Stra^wd 
Benjamin Peat's lot from the widow, Phebe, and in 
1732 purchased for £95 the remaining one and one- 
half acres which had gone to Richard Butler's eldest 
daughter; by these transactions Moses Wheeler's 
''home lot" was once more intact as it had left his 
hands. 

Samuel did not, however, long own the old 
Wheeler property; for in 1732 he began to sell his 
land in Stratford and to buy in the hill country, a 
region which now becomes of interest in our nar- 
rative. 

When the young couple were married in 1725, Bipum 
there was already in existence in the northem part 
of Stratford township an "Ecclesiastical Society" 
or parish known as Ripton. Ripton Parish then in- 
cluded much of that part of Stratford township 
which lay beyond the "Six Mile Limit"; that is, 
over six miles north from the old meeting-house, 
in the territory then called the Common Lands. ^ 
The story of the founding of Ripton Society, of 
which Samuel and Abigail were to become faithful 



* These Common Lands were owned by "Ye Proprietors 
of Common undivided Land in Stratford," who had several 
times sought to have them divided. Finally, in 1732-33 
such a division was ordered, but it was not until the last 
Monday of November, 1738, that "Ye draught of ye Lots'* 
was finally made by Edmund Lewis, Esq., and each of the 
one hundred and ninety-nine claimants, of whom Samuel 
was one, received the grant of a portion. In many cases the 
actual plot was not assigned until years later. 

[ ^77 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Ripum members, is both interesting in itself and typical of 
the founding of many similar societies. 

Permission to organize a new ecclesiastical society 
could be obtained only through an appeal to the 
General Assembly (of which we heard a great deal in 
the previous chapter). Indeed, a saw-mill could 
scarcely be erected, much less a new parish founded, 
without the sanction of this dominating body. The 
necessity of thus appealing to the General Assembly, 
irksome as it undoubtedly was in church matters, 
had the advantage of preventing the weakening of 
existing churches by too frequent subdivision. 

When, therefore, in April, 1717, the settlers of the 
region to the north, few in nimiber as they were and 
sparsely scattered through the hill country, longed 
for a church and religious advantages of their own, 
they sent a petition, signed by three of them, to the 
"HonTble. Gov" and Representatives of his Majes- 
ties Coliny of Conetecut." In this they stated that 
many of the inhabitants of the northem part of the 
township lived eight or ten miles from Stratford and 
could not therefore "sanctifie the Sabbath** as they 
should, adding with some logic, "Considering that 
faith comes by hearing the word preached, how can 
wee hear without a preacher ?** They therefore asked 
that they might "have a minister among them- 
selves at their own charges." This privilege was 
granted that same year, and the ecclesiastical so- 
ciety of Ripton was established, though it must be 

[ ^78] 



Samuel de Forest 



understood that this parish was still in Stratford Ripum 
township and subject to it in many ways. 

The next difficulty of the hill settlers was to secure 
a pastor. His joining them would veritably be "The 
Church's flight into the wildemess" (to borrow the 
text on which a neighboring clergyman preached a 
sermon). Some special inducements, the new society 
thought, must therefore be offered. Accordingly, the 
proprietors of the Common Lands of Stratford, who 
were interested in the founding of the new society, 
as many of the settlers were their children, by a 
"Town Act'* set aside one hundred acres of land in 
the new parish to belong to the minister who should 
settle there and "continue with them in said work to 
his death, then said lands to be his own forever" ! 

Yet the difficulties were not over; for it was 
comparatively easy then to give away unimproved 
land but very hard to collect from the scattered 
parishioners the church tax wherewith to pay the 
minister's salary, though this yearly tax was often 
only "2 shillings 6 pence a head.'' Even this sum 
was usually paid in produce, and if the minister 
wished it in paper money, he sometimes had to be 
satisfied with two thirds of the amount. 

The first meeting-house in Ripton stood about a 
quarter of a mile northeast of the present one. There, 
on February 12, 1724, with ninety-two members 
from the old congregation of Stratford, the new 
church was organized. On the same day the Rev. 

[ 179 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Ripion Jedediah Mills, then twenty-seven years old, was 
ordained pastor. He was from Windsor, Connecti- 
cut, a Yale graduate of 1722. He was promised 
"eighty pounds towards building his house, forty 
pounds of it in money and forty pounds of it in 
work, and in the beginning fifty pounds salary a 
year, and afterwards rising as God shall enable us 
and as Mr. Mills shall stand in need, and as this so- 
ciety shall think fit.'* 

Mr. Mills was an eamest worker, seeking to 
"promote the awakening and salvation of souls." 
He was the friend and disciple of some of the emi- 
nent preachers of the day — Whitefield and Tenant, 
Bellamy and Edwards. It was said of him that he 
was "not noisy** in his preaching but "grave, senti- 
mental, searching and pungent.** Thus he lived 
among his people, loving and beloved, for fifty-two 
years. 
Moose HiU The church in Ripton was new, however, and the 
minister still young when in 1732, Samuel bought 
twenty-six acres in Ripton Parish, on Moose Hill in 
the "back woods,** and decided to make his home 
there with his young wife and little children. He 
was undoubtedly attracted to that region because 
his father's old friend. Deacon Edmund Lewis, had 
already purchased land there. Deacon Edmund had 
been, in fact, "dismissed to Ripton Parish** as early 
as 1722, some twelve years before Samuel and Abi- 
gail moved from Stratford, and he had already 

[ »8o] 



Samuel de Forest 



become prominent in all its parish affairs. It was Moou HUi 
Deacon Edmund's brother, Benjamin Lewis, Jr., 
who had married Samuel's sister Sarah. The tract 
that Samuel now bought adjoined the Lewis tract 
on the east.^ 

Moose Hill, about four miles northwest from Rip- 
ton Centre and fully twelve miles from Stratford, 
was one of the "handsome and elegant hills" de- 
scribed by the Rev. Timothy Dwight during his 
early travels in New England; it had received its 
name, so it was said, because the earliest settlers had 
killed a large moose there. Only Indian trails then 
led to Moose Hill, and Samuel's near neighbors 
would be the Pootatuck Indians, who fortunately 
were friendly to the whites. But what a prospect 
for Abigail and her babies ! 

No records tell of Samuel's joumey to the place 
where the new home was to be or of the building of 
his house, but his experience was like that of many 
another, and we can well imagine it. He must have 
started from the old home in Stratford on horse- 
back, since no highway as yet led to Moose Hill, and 
he was perhaps accompanied by some of his brothers, 
who were to help him. The little party no doubt 
joumeyed up by the banks of the lovely Housatonic 

^ These twenty-six acres were described as *^ butting and 
bounding easterly by Common Land, northeriy by John 
Moss his land — south by John Johnson and Joseph John- 
son, west by Mr. Lewis his land.' 



>9 



[ «8i ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HiU River until they came to the foot-hills and then 
turned in a northwesterly direction, mounting con- 
tinually till they came to Ripton, which was much 
higher than Stratford but not nearly so high as they 
still had to go. So far their way led over a primitive 
road, but beyond Ripton they probably travelled 
by Indian trails only. One of the roads, which still 
runs from Ripton to the hilltop (now called Monroe), 
passes by the site of Samuel's house and was origi- 
nally, perhaps, one of these trails. We know that 
one of Samuel's neighbors, who had built a house 
the previous year among these same hills, also went 
by an Indian trail, as no road had then been built 
although one had been surveyed on the east side of 
Bam Hill 

Samuel's destination was the "lower end of Moose 
Hill" — a hill crest or ridge some six hundred feet 
above tide-water. Did he have a distant view of 
Long Island Sound? It was hardly possible be- 
cause of the forest that lay before him, and at that 
moment he was probably indifferent to anything of 
so little consequence as a mere view. The discovery 
of a good spring and the choice of a proper site for 
his house were items of much more importance. 

Perhaps he summoned help from Ripton or from 
Stratford to aid him in clearing the land where the 
house was to stand and in digging the cellar, as well 
as in the raising of the great frame. Probably the 
house was small like those of his nearest neighbors, 

[ 182] 



Samuel de Forest 



but its beams were undoubtedly mighty enough to Moon nm 
stand, as did those of other houses, for over two 
hundred years. Great oak trees were trimmed and 
dressed where they fell and hewn with an axe into 
timbers ^n and twelve inches square. Heavy sills 
were laid upon stone foundations and at each comer 
posts almost as heavy as the sills were set upright 
upon them. These upright framing timbers were 
two stories high and midway of their height there 
were notched into them horizontal timbers called 
"girths'* which carried the second-story floor beams. 
On top of the uprights a third set of horizontal 
timbers, the "plates," supported the weight of the 
roof. This skeleton was "pinned" together with 
round pegs made of oak about an inch in diameter 
and five or six inches in length. When the frame 
stood complete with its huge beams, there must have 
been rejoicing among those whose weary arms and 
backs had helped to raise it. 

The house was probably what was called a "plank 
house" and therefore no studs were needed, but 
planks two inches thick had to be made with which 
to cover the frame. Fortunately a new saw-mill had 
recently been put up at Halfway River, not very 
far off, and there the planks were sawed for walls 
and floors. The wall planks, made of oak with 
square edges, were placed on end side by side out- 
side of both sill and comer posts ; the lower planks 
for the first story reached from sill to girth and were 

[ 183] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose nm pegged to both of these. The upper-story planks 
stood on top of the lower row and were similarly 
pegged to girth and plate. The floors, of chestnut 
or perhaps of pine, were also made of two-inch 
planks laid close together, with, a half-inch strip 
under the joints to make them tight. All these 
planks were either "pinned" on or nailed with 
hand-made nails — probably the former, as a plank 
house built by one of Samuel's daughters about 
twenty-three years later was entirely put together 
with pegs, even the window frames being so joined. 

The walls and roof were covered with cedar 
shingles three feet long. These were riven by hand 
and shaved down at one end with a drawing knife, 
then nailed to the planks so as to show twelve inches 
"to the weather." The large, irregular heads of the 
hand-made nails are still to be seen on ancient 
buildings, two on the weathered end of each shingle. 

The huge chimney was built of stones, of which 
a plenty was always to be found in Connecticut, 
This chimney was the centre and heart of the new 
home. It was perhaps as much as twelve feet square 
at the base, and as it rose to each new level, hearths 
opened whereon bright flames would flicker to warm 
and cheer. Even the cellar had its big fireplace, 
where the rough work of the household could be done. 

The stones of these colonial houses were often put 
together with clay instead of mortar and the same 
material was sometimes used for plastering the 

[184] 



Samuel de Forest 



rooms. In fact, it was so used in the house of Moose Hm 
Samuel's daughter already alluded to. The clay was 
difficult to spread, but once in place and dry it was 
almost impossible to break. If lime was used in- 
stead of clay, it was made from shells gathered down 
at the water-side and brought up in sacks on the 
backs of horses. 

The heavy comer posts within the rooms were 
never covered with plaster, but the wall spaces be- 
tween had to be lathed before the plaster could be 
applied. The laths, hand-made, were of thin boards 
riven and split in an irregular way so that the strips 
still held together, though somewhat spread apart. 
These were nailed directly on the planks, and then 
the house was ready for plastering. No paint was 
put on the outside of the house and probably none 
on the inside either, and there were no adornments 
— not even a porch — just two stone steps by which 
to get up to the front door. 

It was, as we have said, undoubtedly a small 
house, as were most of the early houses in that 
region. It probably contained a room on the first 
floor with a great fireplace and stone oven, used as 
a living-room and kitchen, out of which one or two 
pantries opened. In front of this was a "best room,*' 
which could be used as parlor or guest room, or both, 
as was often the case, and there was probably an- 
other bedroom, while in the half-story above were 
a couple more rooms. Not very ample quarters for 

[ 185 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose Hiu Samuers large family; but if the bedrooms were not 
too small, two double beds could be put in each one, 
or trundle beds in which the children could sleep 
might stand under the high-posters and be pulled 
out at night. 

We do not know when Samuel actually moved to 
Moose Hill, but it was probably in the summer of 
1734. The following data give us all the clues we 
have. 

He had bought his twenty-six acres on July i, 
1732, and he soon began to increase his holdings of 
land in that region by buying small plots from his 
neighbors, as well as by securing the rights of other 
people, including those of his brother David, to 
"division lands yet to be taken up,** which meant 
that the lands were to be divided but were not as 
yet definitely assigned. In the "town distribution 
of 1732," three acres and sixty rods that adjoined 
his own property were allotted to him. These, how- 
ever, because of the " Ruff ness of Land " were " sized 
by ye Distributors at 2 acres and no more to be 
Deemed." Several other plots came to him by dis- 
tribution or purchase until he became a large land- 
holder in those parts. 

Moreover, as soon as Samuel had decided to move 
to Moose Hill, he began to sell his Stratford prop- 
erty; on October 6, 1732, he disposed of his share of 
his father's estate; that is, his part of the "Gate 
Lot" opposite to his father's old homestead. 

[ 186] 



Samuel de Forest 






A still more important indication of the probable Moose HUi 
year in which Samuel removed from "the water 
side*' is the following fact: on February 4, 1734, he 
and his father-in-law, Samuel Peat, Jr., sold for 
£240 their " i>^ acres House lot Land, with a Dwell- 
ing House, Bam and Well thereon,*' which was the 
old Benjamin Peat homestead in which he and Abi- 
gail had spent the first nine years of their married 
life with Abigail's father. 

We have already seen that no highway led to 
Moose Hill when Samuel took the journey there to 
build his house. By February, 1734, however, a 

cross highway" had been laid out which began at 

a heap of stones near to ye North East comer of 
Sam^. Deforest his bam," and ran until it reached 
another pile of stones at the "Grand highway on 
Fools Hatch." This shows that Samuel's bam and 
presmnably his house were already built by Feb- 
mary of 1734. On the other hand, he and his family 
could not have moved to Moose Hill as early as that 
date, for his fourth child, Hepzibah, was bom in 
Stratford in 1734 and was baptized there on June 
2nd of the same year. Thus it seems likely that 
Samuel moved with his family that summer after 
the house and bam were ready and when Hepzibah 
was a tiny baby. In any case, he was fully established 
in Ripton Parish in 1735 and held church office there 
in December of that year. 

We do not know just how Abigail and the chil- 

[187] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose Eiu drcn and "Grandmother Harvey" (AbigaiFs mo- 
ther's mother, who always lived with Samuel 
and Abigail) reached their new home. Probably 
Abigail with baby Hepzibah on her arm made the 
rough joumey on horseback, mounted on a pillion 
behind her husband. The little three-year-old Jo- 
seph may have sat on a small pillow in front of his 
father. Grandmother Harvey and the other two 
children possibly followed under some one else's 
escort. In any event, when Abigail reached Moose 
Hill a wonderful new home met her eyes — a house 
all her own, even if it was in the wildemess ! 

Although the house was finished, much remained 
for the pioneers to do. A well must be dug, fields 
Oiust be cleared, and a place for an orchard pre- 
pared as well as a garden spot for Abigail. Then 
ploughing must follow and that wearisome gather- 
ing of stones which cleared the fields for future sow- 
ing and provided the picturesque stone walls that 
served as boundaries throughout Connecticut. 

Who was to do all this work, to which Samuel's 
one pair of hands was quite unequal ? Perhaps he 
had slaves or it may be that some of his neighbors 
on Bam Hill or in Ripton helped him. There were 
the Indians, too, but they were a lazy lot ; hunting 
they were always ready for, but hard work was 
quite another thing. They were friendly enough 
but very startling with their sudden comings and 
goings. They never knocked, just appeared; never 

[ i88 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



said goodbye, just left. A very undependable kind Modsi Hiu 
of help they were but better than none. 

One of the very first duties after settling in the 
house, or perhaps even before that, was to go to 
meeting. Mr. Mills had now been installed in Rip- 
ton Parish ten years and a blessing it was to be 
under his ministry. For all that, the ride from 
Moose Hill to Ripton meeting-house was long, 
about four miles, though the number of miles could 
make no difference to the parishioners, since go they 
must. Again Samuel and Abigail must have de- 
pended upon their trusty horse, with Samuel carry- 
ing the family dinner in his saddle-bags. Perhaps 
two of the older children were seated astride of 
another nag. Grandmother Harvey may have stayed 
at home to care for the baby, though few children 
were counted too yoimg to take on such a journey, 
even when they were so little that they had to be 
laid in the kind of cage or basket kept in the meeting- 
house for this purpose. 

Such a joumey was not unpleasant if the weather 
was good ; there was always the possibility of meet- 
ing friends or neighbors and chatting as they jogged 
on together; there was so little time for visiting that 
early settlers eagerly seized this chance for socia- 
bility. At last they would arrive at Ripton Centre, 
veritably a "centre"; for families on horseback or 
on foot, if they came from near-by, could be seen 
gathering from every direction and emerging on the 

[ 189 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



MoouHiU Green. This was long and narrow, the meeting- 
house standing at one end and the stocks and whip- 
ping post close at hand.^ 

Dismounting at the "Sabba'day House," a large 
building in the rear of the meeting-house, the wor- 
shippers would, in winter, crowd around the brisk 
fire to get warm after their cold ride. When Samuel 
and Abigail first attended church in Ripton Parish, 
the meeting-house was a barrack-like building and 
bitter cold in winter. There was no fire whatever; 
even foot-stoves had not yet come into use. No 
wonder if the women in spite of their brief warming 
by the fire in the Sabba'day House drew their quilted 
hoods closer when they crossed the threshold of the 
sanctuary or if the children pulled up their mittens 
and mufflers. No wonder, either, if the boys stamped 
their feet or slapped them together even before the 
minister came to " Finally" or to "A few more words 
and I have done." Nor could the sermons them- 
selves have exerted other than a chilling influence 
if we may judge from the titles of those preached by 
the Rev. Mr. Mills, for instance: "An Inquiry con- 
cerning the state of the unregenerate under the 
Gospel. Whether on every rising degree of internal 
light conviction and amendment of life they are 



^ As early as 1740 an Episcopal church was also erected 
farther down on the Green with the burying-ground beyond, 
where "church people were buried near the church, meeting- 
house folk farther away, and slaves against the fence." 



[ 190 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



(while unregenerate) undoubtedly on the whole MoostHm 
more vile odious and abominable (in God's sight) 
than they would have been had they continued 
secure and at ease going on in their sins imder the 
same external means of light/' 

The congregation sang from that literary curios- 
ity, the old " Bay Psalm Book/* and let us hope that 
even the mild exertion of singing set the blood cir- 
culating a little. Singing was started by the chor- 
ister, who used a wooden pitch-pipe, and the hymn 
was always given out in couplets. 

When the long service was over, the congrega- 
tion would repair once more to the Sabba'day House 
to spend the interval between the services. Here 
around the roaring fire friends or families separated 
by distance could have pleasant reunions, so that 
the "noon hour" was always thoroughly enjoyed. 
Abundant providers were those early colonists and 
the good things the dinner baskets contained were 
enough to make the eyes of the children glisten. 
Cold pie, doughnuts, pork and beans, and perhaps 
brown bread and cheese! Milk also was probably 
carried in a wooden bottle — a "pottle," as it was 
called ; a real Sabbath Day feast. 

Many were undoubtedly sorry when this delight- 
ful respite was over and they were obliged to leave 
the bright fire and return for the second long ser- 
vice ; for even if the theology of the day was " red 
hot," it was not the kind of heat that kept the con- 

[ 191 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moosi nm gregation warm. In summer when the church win- 
dows could be open and the pleasant breezes float 
in, the experience was not so severe. Then the noon- 
ing was taken in the open air under the shade of a 
great oak which stood near at hand, and the chil- 
dren could wander in the graveyard and work off 
some of their superfluous energy. 

Only a few years after Samuel came to Riptoft 
a remarkable religious revival took place throughout 
New England — "The Great Awakening/' as it has 
been called. Jonathan Edwards at Northampton, 
Massachusetts, had aroused a widespread interest 
in spiritual matters. Hezekiah Gold, also, who was 
then the minister at Stratford, had had during the 
early days of his ministry an unusually successful 
revival in his congregation. He had heard great 
things of George Whitefield, an English evangelist 
and a celebrated pulpit orator, and was anxious that 
he should preach in Stratford as a means of increas- 
ing the religious interest. 

Mr. Whitefield, the founder of Calvinistic Meth- 
odism, had promised to come to New England and 
did indeed arrive in 1740, starting forthwith on 
a crusade in the colony of Connecticut, where he 
had "wonderful success in awaking secure sinners." 
In October, 1740, during the course of Mr. White- 
field's progress through Connecticut, he preached in 
Hartford, Wethersfield, and Middletown on his way 
to New Haven. Fortunately a very vivid descrip- 

[ 192 ] 






Samuel de Forest 



tion of the interest and excitement caused in this Moost nm ' 

region by his preaching has been preserved. Nathan 

Cole of Kensington Parish has left a manuscript 

concerning his " Spiritual Travels," in which he gives 

a thrilling accoimt of his strenuous efforts to attend 

Whitefield's preaching on October 23rd. He writes: 

One morning all on a suding about 8 or 9 o'clock 
there came a messenger and said Mr. Whitfeld 
preached at Hartford and Wethersfeld yesterday and is 
to preach at MiddletowQ this morning at 10 o'clock, i 
was in my field at work and I dropt my tool that I 
had in my hand and run home and run throu my house 
and bad my wife get ready quick to goo and hear Mr. 
Whitfeld preach at Middletown and run to my pasture 
for my hors with all my might fearing I should be too 
late to hear him and I brought my hors home and soon 
mounted and took my wife up and went forward as 
fast as I thought ye hors could bear and when my hors 
began to be out of breth I would get down and put my 
wife on ye saddel and bid her ride as fast as she could 
and not Stop or Slack for me except I bad her and so I 
would run until I was almost out of breth and then 
mount my hors again and so I did several times to favor 
my hors ... to get along as if we was fleeing for our 
lives and all this while fearing we should be too late to 
hear ye Sarmon for we had 12 miles to ride dubble in a 
littel more then an hour and we went around by the 
housen parish and^when we came within about half a 
mile of ye road that come down from Hartford and 
Wethersfeld and Stepney to Middletown I saw before 
me a Cloud or fog rising and I first thought off from the 
great river but as I came nearer ye road I heard a noise 

[ 193 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HiU something like a low rumbling thunder and I presently 
found it was ye rumbling of horses feet coming dovm 
ye road and this cloud was a cloud of dust made by ye 
running of ye horses feet. It rose some rods into ye air 
over the tops of ye hills and trees and when I came 
within about 20 rods of ye road I could see men and 
horses Sliping along in ye cloud like shadows and when 
I came nearer it was like a stedy streem of horses and 
their riders. Scarcely a horse more then his length 
behind another and all of a lather and fome with swet 
and ther breth rooling out of their noistrels in ye cloud 
of dust every jump every hors seemed to go with all his 
might to carry his rider to hear ye news from heaven 
for ye saving of their Souls ... I found a vacance 
between two horses to Slip in my hors • . . they was so 
covered with dust that thay looked allmost all of a 
coler coats & hats & shirts & horses ... I heard no man 
speak a word all ye way three mile . . . 

When I saw Mr. Whitfeld come up upon ye scaffil he 
looked allmost angellical a young small slender youth 
before some thousands of people. 

On October 23rd and the three succeeding days 
Whitefield held services in New Haven, and as Mr. 
Mills was anxious to hear him speak, he went thither 
for the purpose. Probably Hezekiah Gold of Strat- 
ford went also. Whitefield was much attracted by 
Jedcdiah Mills, declaring that he was "refreshed" 
by the sight of him, and writing in his journal: "My 
soul was much united to him. I could not but think 
God would do great things by his hands. He talked 
like one that was no novice in divine things. 

[ 194 ] 



9f 



Samuel de Forest 



Monday morning, October 27th, at Milford, four Mwe Em 
miles from Stratford, beyond the Housatonic River, 
Whitefield held a service of which he wrote: 
"Preached this morning I think with as much 
Cleamess and Freedom and Power as I have for 
a long Season. The Presence of God was much in 
the Assembly, which was large. . . . Dear Mr. Mills, 
who came again to meet me this Morning, was much 
affected." 

In the afternoon he preached at Stratford, where 
so large a congregation assembled that, according to 
tradition, the service took plac6 in the open air. As 
a matter of fact, Whitefield's custom was to preach 
in the open air, as churches were not generally large 
enough to hold his congregations. This could hardly 
have been pleasant on that particular day; for Mr. 
Whitefield tells us, "The weather was very cold, it 
having snowed a great Part of the afternoon.'* 
Nevertheless, all the country-side was there and we 
may be sure that Samuel and Abigail were among 
the number. 

Whitefield's voice undoubtedly had an unusual 
carrying quality; for a woman who lived nearly a 
mile from "Meeting House Hill" distinctly heard 
the text, from Zechariah, "Turn ye to the strong- 
hold, ye prisoners of hope," and repeated it to her 
husband on his return from the preaching. 

The interest was intense and many were the con- 
versions. One young woman " in the overwhelming 

[ 195] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose Hiu excitement of her mind, swooned and fell into a sort 
of trance, which lasted one or two days/' Another, 
a young mother, was so much affected that she 
walked all the way to Fairfield with her infant in 
her arms to hear him preach again that day. In 
speaking later of the services held at Milford and 
Stratford the preacher said: "Both these Places, 
especially Stratford, were ill reported of for their 
leaning toward Arminian Principals. Oh Lord, 
convince them of the Rottenness of their Founda- 
tion." Mr. Whitefield was entertained by Mr. GJold 
during his short stay in the town and then passed on 
to Fairfield. The excitement in Stratford and the 
surrounding country was very great after his visit. 
How we wish we could know what effect was pro- 
duced upon Samuel and Abigail and Grandmother 
Harvey by this "Great Awakening"! We can im- 
agine them wending their way back to their hill- 
top, discussing the sermon as they went. After the 
long ride through the cold and the snow, how re- 
joiced they must have been to reach home again, 
where, gathered around the hospitable fireplace 
with its great back log, we may be sure they talked 
over at length the exciting events of the day. 

Soon after his arrival at Moose Hill Samuel be- 
came active in Ripton Parish affairs. In December, 
173 S> it was agreed that "ye minister's rates" 
should be, yearly, "six pence on ye pound on ye 
common list " (the tax list), and Samuel was chosen 

[ 196] 



Samuel de Forest 



collector. In 1738 he with four others was appointed Moou nm 
on the "Committee of Ripton Parish*' (the local 
governing body) and they were instructed, among 
other things, to affix "wamings^of society meet- 
ings to "ye sign posts" in five different parts of the 
parish, one of these sign posts being at Moose Hill 
near Samuel's house. This position on the parish 
committee he held for seven years or longer. 

The year 1739 found him on a committee of five 
for the care of "the School for AcQuamQuag 
Quarter." "Acquunkquoke" was the Indian name 
for the Ripton region and meant "high land." 
Schoolhouses were at this time usually built upon 
the highway to avoid the payment of taxes, and 
fifty families were necessary to entitle a community 
to a school; but to find in this sparsely settled region 
fifty families whose boys and girls could attend the 
school meant that many of them must come from 
long distances. For fifteen years Samuel continued 
on the school committee, and it is worthy of note 
that in 1745 one of the schools was alluded to as 
"the school at MooshilL" 

Religion and education were undoubtedly the 
dominant interests of the early New Englanders, 
but a third element in the routine of their lives was 
the military training, in which nearly all the men 
took part. The military organizations of Connecti- 
cut had already attained in Samuel's day to an 
ancient and honorable history. We recall that as 

[ '97 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose nm early as 1639 "Sergeant Nichols" of Stratford ^^s 
" assigned ... to train the men and exercise them 
in military discipline," but at about the time of 
King Philip's War (1675) the militia of the colony 
was put on a more orderly footing and there were 
"train bands" in many of the larger settlements. 
Of course Stratford, which had become one of the 
most important towns in Connecticut, had to have 
such an organization as well as her neighbors, and 
at the time of this war was ordered to raise thirty- 
three "dragoons," Fairfield, the coimty town, being 
required to provide no more than thirty-eight. 
Whenever a new ecclesiastical society was fully 
established, it was expected that it would organize 
its own train band, and accordingly Ripton followed 
the example set by the larger towns. Our friend 
Samuel in 1740 became a military officer and began 
to be spoken of as ** Sergeant Samuel Deforest," and 
as "Clerk of the train band," Edmund Lewis, Jr. 
(a son of Deacon Edmund and a man of about 
Samuel's age), was also made ensign, then captain, 
and finally colonel. 

But military duties, after all, occupied only a 
small part of Samuel's time and he was chiefly active 
on the various church committees. The little old 
meeting-house, built in 1720, was in 1745 quite in- 
adequate for the needs of the growing congregation ; 
and as a community could not even build a meeting- 
house without permission, our colonists petitioned 

[ 198 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



the General Assembly to appoint a committee to Moon nm 

come to Rip con and look into the matter. Samuel 

and nine others were accordingly directed to meet 

the conmiittee and to "lead them sutably for vew- 

ing the place and surcimistances of the parish of 

Ripton with reference to building a new meeting 

house in Ripton." The result was evidently not 

favorable to the petitioners, for the new church was 

not built that year or for many years more, in fact, 

not until 1785-86. About the time the new church 

was first proposed, a conmiittee was also appointed 

"to affix ... a place for the Convenient and Decent 

Burying of the Dead,"' and among the names on 

this conmiittee we find that of Samuel. 

Many and long were the discussions entailed by 
all these affairs — discussions which often took 
place, it is likely, around the fire in Samuel's cozy 
living-room, Abigail the while sewing or twirling her 
flax wheel and putting in her word now and then ; 
for although women did not read much in those days, 
partly because they had so few books, they never- 
theless felt a keen interest in all that was going on. 

When Abigail had been living nine years on Moose 
Hill, Nehemiah, her seventh child, was bom. Seven 
were none too many for Abigail's loving heart but 
a large number to be provided for. Fortunately 
some of the older children were then able to 
help her with the daily work. Martha, the eldest 
one, was seventeen years old; Mary was fifteen, 

[ 199 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HiU Joseph twelve, Hepzibah nine, Elizabeth six, and 
Samuel four years old. Grandmother Harvey, too, 
was still living with Abigail and, even though she 
was getting pretty old, was able to help with the 
care of the children. Little Hepzibah was an especial 
pet of hers, and we know that it was Grandmother 
who taught the child to read and write; for the 
schoolhouse at Moose Hill was not yet built when 
Hepzibah was learning her A B C's out of the New 
England Primer. The dear grandmother also taught 
her many hynms, and little Hepzibah, who had a 
good memory, could recite her beloved hynms on 
Sunday evenings as long as the family cared to 
listen. 

The father was obliged to provide both food and 
clothing for all these youngsters, and it all had to 
come in one way or another from his farm. Samuel 
had very likely by this time added a weaving-room 
to his house, ajid so the weaver would come to con- 
vert into cloth or linen the products of the wool and 
flax wheels of Abigail and her daughters. After that, 
a tailor would fashion these homespun products 
into the every-day clothes which they all wore, and 
we can easily 'imagine a similarity in the general 
appearance of the whole family. When it became 
necessary to fit the family out with shoes, Samuel 
would send for the cobbler, who took the heavy, 
home-tanned leather and converted it into shoes for 
the elders, the children, and the slaves — if any 

[ 200 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



there were. Of course, each of these craftsmen, Moostnm 
while thus occupied, had to live in the house. 

The New England "planters" received little or 
no income from their land, only produce, and so they 
had a system of exchange among themselves. David 
the glazier, of Stratford, for instance, made window 
sashes for Joseph Booth, the tanner, and he in turn 
tanned leather and made shoes for David's family. 
Samuel, the farmer, took hay or apples to Captain 
Josiah Curtiss at his saw-mill on the Halfway 
River and Josiah sawed Samuel's timber for him, 
or Samuel took his gram to the miller at the grist- 
mill, a little farther down the river, and the miller 
retained a certain percentage of the grain in pay- 
ment for his services. Even the minister once re- 
ceived "9 pounds of Solluther" (sole leather) in lieu 
of his church rates. 

Once in a while accounts were balanced, the record 
often beginning, "Reckened & Seteled all Book ac- 
counts from the Beginning of the World to this Day 
— Even." The balance, on whichever side it might 
be, was sometimes carried forward; for it was not 
often that actual money changed hands. This gen- 
erally happened only when surplus material could 
be sold in one of the larger towns or sent for export 
to "The Landing" on the Housatonic, which was 
Ripton's seaport. It was from there frequently 
shipped to the West Indies, and from these sales 
only was it usual to receive "hard cash.' 

[ ^01 ] 



9> 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HUl This cash was sometimes put out at interest — 
"money in bond" being an item which is often 
foimd in the old inventories — or else it was used 
as soon as possible for the purchase of more land. 
It may have been through sales of this kind that 
Samuel obtained the money which he invested in 
real estate. In the old Land Records are many 
entries which show how widely scattered were his 
holdings. There were several tracts on Moose Hill, 
some at Foolshatch, at Cub Swamp near Tim's 
Pools, at Cherry Tree Plain, and at many other 
places, including some as far away as Fairfield. 

As years went on, changes came; the year 1748 
was a sad one for Samuel's wife. A little David had 
been bom on July 9, 1745, and now in 1748, her ninth 
and last child, Josiah, came to gladden her heart but 
he lived only six months. In April of the same year 
her father, Samuel Peat, having now rounded out 
a life of eighty-four years, also passed away. He 
held large landed interests when he died dnd was a 
wealthy man according to the standards of the day. 
Abigail as his only child came into possession of 
various tracts of more or less valuable real estate. 

Additional wealth was no doubt very acceptable 
to the parents at this time, when the elder children 
were beginning to think of matrimony and of build- 
ing homes of their own. We must pause here in our 
story of Samuel's life to tell something about the 
marriages of these children. 

[ 202 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



In 1750, Mary, the second daughter, was married Moose HHi 
to Elisha, son of the Rev. Mr. Mills. This was un- 
doubtedly a jojrful event for the whole family but 
for the parents an expensive one as well, since the 
"setting out" of a bride cost a considerable sum of 
money, a well-to-do father often spending as much 
as £200 for such a purpose. It would be interesting 
if we could read a description of Mary's wedding, 
but as none exists, we must be content with the 
account of a similar event in the neighborhood. 

The minister, on this occasion, made a speech in 
which he told the bride and groom and the "pretty 
deal of company" present that "Love was the sugar 
to sweeten every condition in the married state." 
Then after the "sack posset" was drunk, they all 
sang "the 4Sth Psalm — 5 staves" and the bride- 
groom received as a gift from the minister the "very 
good Turkey Leather Psalm book" which had been 
used during the service, with the hope that it might 
be "an introduction" to his "singing with the quire 
above." 

Possibly the bride's garter was scrambled for, as 
was not unconunon, but let us hope that Elisha was 
not induced to conform to an ungallant practice 
which we are told was sometimes followed at wed- 
dings. "Just before joining hands the bridegroom 
quits the place, who is soon followed by the Brides- 
men and, as it were, dragged back to duty." More 
likely it was "Mistress Bride" who was stolen and 

[ 203 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moosf HUi held by some of her men friends till the bridegroom 
redeemed her by the promise of a supper. This cus- 
tom lingered long in the valley of the Connecticut, 
and may have prevailed also in the hill towns. 

The marriage was a desirable one for Mary, as 
Elisha, though her junior and only eighteen at the 
time, was a young man of great promise. He became 
a prominent merchant in Ripton Centre and owned a 
large store there, the largest within many miles, so 
that people came from Norwalk and other places 
along the Sound to trade with him. " Squire Mills " 
was influential and respected and was three times 
sent from Ripton as a representative to the General 
Assembly, that being the highest honor in the gift of 
his fellow-townsmen. During the prosperous days of 
Ripton, therefore, Mary de Forest, as Squire Mills's 
wife, was an important lady in the community and 
hdd an enviable position. The couple lived to a ripe 
old age; when Mary died in 1817 she was nearly 
ninety years old. She and Elisha had ten children. 

Seeing their sister so happily married, it is not sur* 
prising that the other children should have wished to 
follow her example. Joseph married in 1757 and 
lived for some years in Stratford. Soon afterward 
Samuel gave him, as part of his portion, fifteen 
acres from his own land, and Joseph built a home- 
stead near his father's and, like him, became inter- 
ested in civic affairs. 

Hepzibah, Samuel's third daughter, who was 

[ 204 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Grandmother Harvey's pet and pupil, had in 1757 Moose Em 
grown into a charming young woman of twenty- 
two. She had been remarkable even as a child, 
showing a very unusual appreciation and love of the 
beautiful, and while still a little tot had once suc- 
ceeded in catching a humming-bird so that she 
might hold it gently in her hand and admire the 
lovely coloring of its plumage. Few advantages had 
been hers — the slightest kind of schooling and little 
or no acquaintance with the broadening influences of 
city life — and yet, by her own innate ability and 
determination, through all her life she made more out 
of her talents than do many women who can com- 
mand every resource. 

The year after Joseph was married, Hepzibah 
gave her heart to young Milton Hawley. They were 
married by Mr. Mills, and we may be sure that 
Grandmother Harvey, who was still living, was 
present at her darling's wedding. Afterward Milton 
and "Hepsy" built a house for themselves on Bam 
Hill, not far from Hepzibah's old home, on the road 
which mounted from the Housatonic to the top of 
Moose Hill. This was the plank house alluded to 
earlier in the chapter. 

Milton Hawley (so named because of his father's 
great admiration for "Paradise Lost") was an ex- 
traordinarily handsome man but not Hepzibah's 
equal intellectually, though he greatly appreciated 
his brilliant wife. As a commentary on her love of 

[ 205 ] 



1 

i 



Samuel de Forest 



Moou HiU beauty, it has been told that when some one asked 
her how she happened to marry her husband, her 
candid answer was, '^He was the handsomest man I 
had ever seen." Hepzibah never had beauty herself, 
although she was tiall and erect. After she lost her 
youth she would not, for many years, look at herself 
in a glass. One day by chance she glanced into a 
mirror, saw herself, and fainted. 

Her artistic temperament found expression in 
various ways. She drew her own pattems for the 
"rugs" which she made and worked in crewels on 
coarse home-made tow-cloth, filling in the back** 
ground with black stitches. She painted her window** 
shades, then always made of paper, from her own 
designs — flowers and trees and houses with ladies 
and gentlemen in fine costumes walking on impos* 
sibly intricate garden paths. 

Above all, she was fond of her flower garden, and 
we can imagine the riot of color which followed her 
generous planting. Tradition says that she suc- 
ceeded in variegating the colors in her bed of pinks 
by braiding the roots together. What would a 
modem gardener say of this method ! 

Reading always interested her, although not many 
books came within her reach, and she never forgot 
anything that she read, either prose or poetry. She 
tried her own hand at verse and some of the poems 
are still preserved. As she grew older she lost her 
sight, but she loved to have her children and her 

[ 206 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



grandchildren about her and used to pass her hands Moosi nm 
over the faces of the little ones to see if they had 
inherited the Hawley beauty! Her memory never 
failed ; when she was ninety-five years of age she told 
a friend that she could repeat hymns from Sunday 
morning until Saturday nig^t and that if all the 
books containing Watts's hymns were destroyed, she 
could supply the text for a new edition from her own 
recollection, so well had she profited by the teach- 
ings of the grandmother she so dearly loved. As she 
was a grown woman at the time of the Revolutionary 
War and was possessed of so remarkable a memory, 
it is not surprising that she was ^'a mine of wealth 
to the historians of the early part of the century/* 
One of her nephews who also lived to a great age 
was never tired of quoting her as an oracle of wis- 
dom. He said that she was indeed his '^beau ideal 
of a noble woman." 

Her home on Bam Hill was very dear to her; she 
loved to tell her descendants that such were the 
charms and healthfulness of that locality that of the 
nine families who originally settled on the hill "not 
one of the heads of these families died or removed in 
fifty years, except one who died about four months 
before the half century expired.*' 

Hepzibah lived long enough to have a great-great- 
granddaughter come to visit her. In 183 1 she passed 
away, aged ninety-seven, havmg been for the last 
twelve years a widow. 

[ 207 ] 



\ 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HiU The plank house in which Hepzibah was so happy 
is to be seen in excellent preservation to this day ; it 
is painted red with white trimmings, still has its 
great central chimney, and is yet occupied, though 
in the garden Hepzibah's pinks no longer grow. 

Samuel's son Nehemiah remains to be mentioned. 
He fell a victim to the charms of a young girl, Mary 
Lockwood by name, the daughter of Deacon Peter 
Lockwood of Wilton Parish, Norwalk. They were 
married in 1769 and Nehemiah brought his bride to 
live on Moose Hill. In those days the youngest son 
usually lived at home with his mother and when he 
married brought his wife to live there also. At such a 
time it was customary to make some kind of division 
in the house so that each — mother and daughter — 
had her own "rights" there, and each respected 
those of the other. Nehemiah was not the youngest 
son, but he was the only one left at home and Samuel 
treated him very handsomely by then giving him as 
"part of his portion" fifteen acres of land and "one 
half of my Dwelling house, at ye South end," also 
"one half of my bam, at ye East end." Lest Abigail 
should feel that she was no longer mistress in her own 
home, Samuel gave her the other half of the house 
and bam and all the land comprised in the"01de 
Homestead." 

As another chapter is to be devoted to Nehemiah 
and Mary, we will leave further details of their 
eventful married life to be told later on. 

[ 208 ] 



HOUSE OF HEPZIBAH DE FOREST HAWLEY, BUILT ABOUT I757 
Still to be Kwn on Bin HiU 



Samuel de Forest 



Besides his children, Samuel had two younger Moose nm 
brothers, Henry and Benjamin, living near him. 
Like Samuel, they were public-spirited men and 
busied themselves with Ripton affairs, church mat- 
ters in particular occupying much of their time. 

To understand the absorbing church interests and 
relationships of all these de Forests, we must recol- 
lect the close alliance between church and state to 
which we had occasion to refer in connection with 
the "setting off" of Ripton Parish. Much the same 
experience now fell to the lot of the settlers on Moose 
Hill and its vicinity. Some of them lived in the north- 
eastem part of North Stratford Parish and some in 
the northwestern part of Ripton Parish. To continue 
any longer attending service at a meeting-house so far 
distant from their homes seemed to them intolerable. 
In 1750, therefore, forty of the inhabitants, among them 
Samuel, his brother Henry, and Edmund Lewis, Jr., all 
neighbors, sent a memorial to the General Assembly: 
" Praying liberty ... to meet among themselves for 
divine service four months of the year, viz : — De- 
cember, January, February, and March, for the term 
of three years from this time, they improving some 
orthodox preacher among them during said term." ^ 

The General Assembly granted their request and 
freed those then living in North Stratford from pay- 
ing taxes to the society of that place during the four 

* Connecticut Colony Records, State Library, Hartford. 
Ecclesiastical Affairs, vol. viii, doc. 227. 



[ 209 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose Hiu months named. There was violent opposition to 
this decision on account of the last clause, North 
Stratford Society not wishing to lose the amount of 
revenue contributed by the forty society members. 
The General Assembly's consent was therefore with- 
drawn, although the request of the colonists was cer- 
tainly a reasonable one. 

Apparently nothing more was done until March 
i6, 1 761, eleven years later. Then another appeal, 
representing about seventy families, was sent to the 
same body, this time asking that the territory before- 
mentioned be set apart as a separate ecclesiastical 
society and calling attention to the fact that the 
older parishes were in "comfortable circumstances 
to maintain and support ye Gospel without us." 
Their appeal reads: "The nearest of your memorial- 
ists to any public worship is about three miles and so 
upward to seven miles and some more . . . and many 
of us large families so that it is altogether impossible 
for us and our families to attend thereon, especially 
in ye Winter season and other times without ex- 
treme difficulty . . . having many of us labored 
under burden and hardships for more than twenty 
years, and ye increase of our families together with 
ye thought of our children being in a great measure 
deprived of preaching of ye Gospel, thus continuing 
any longer seems to be a burden insupportable." ^ 



^ Connecticut Colony Records, State Library, Hartford. 
Ecclesiastical Affairs, vol. xii, doc. 212. 

[ 210 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



They proposed that the boundary should run " a lit- Moose nm 
tie southward of ye south part Mooshill so-called " 
and begged that a committee might be sent " at ye 
charge of your memorialists to view ye circumstances 
of ye proposed parish," The boundary then recom- 
mended would have included Samuel de Forest's 
home. 

Both Ripton and North Stratford objected to this 
proposal also, for the same reasons as before ; never- 
theless, the following November (1761) a committee 
of eight, including Samuel, was chosen " to wait on 
the honorable Committee appointed by the General 
Assembly to view the said Parish." There was re- 
newed opposition to the plan and many other sug- 
gestions were made, with the intent of curtailing the 
limits of the new parish on the south. Finally, in 
May, 1762, the committee gave in its report, and the 
General Assembly, after again altering the bound- 
ary, approved the report and named the new eccle- 
siastical society "New Stratford." 

No one of our three friends — Samuel de Forest, 
Milton Hawley, and Edmund Lewis, Jr. — gained 
anything by this decision. They all lived on the de- 
batable ground, Samuel's house being on the south 
side of the "cross highway" which was used as the 
southem boundary of the new division, and they 
were left, as they had been before, in Ripton Parish, 
four miles away from their meeting-house. 

Samuel was now in an embarrassing position. He 

[211 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose mu wanted to attend service in New Stratford Parish 
and to have his children attend school there, but it 
was evident that Ripton was very jealous of the new^ 
organization. We must remember, too, that Mr. 
Mills was an old and valued friend of the de Forests 
and the father-in-law of SamueFs daughter Mary. 
Squire Mills, her husband, was very prominent in 
Ripton affairs of all kinds and undoubtedly felt very 
strongly about this desertion. What was to be done ? 
Samuel, rather than cause trouble in the family, de- 
cided to continue to pay his parish and school rates 
in Ripton, while making use of the church and school 
on the hilltop. But, neither as a member of the Rip- 
ton Parish committee nor as a member of the school 
committee nor in any other Ripton office do we any 
longer find the name of Samuel de Forest. 

Previous to this petition some kind of winter par- 
ish had been in existence on the hilltop ; in fact, it is 
. said that the Rev. Mr. Mills was in the habit of hold- 
ing a service there in a "bamlike building" every 
third Sunday. Whether the building were "bam- 
like" or not made no difference to the inhabitants of 
"^ Moose Hill, who longed to worship near their own 

homes, and so in October, 1767, four members of the 
Lewis family sent yet another appeal * to the General 
Assembly, praying that the New Stratford boundary 
be once more altered so as to include them. It must 

* Connecticut Colony Records, State Library, Hartford. 
Ecclesiastical Affairs, vol. xii, p. 215. 



[ 212 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



have been particularly annoying to Samuel to have Moosi HUi 
them "pray" that the new line should begin "at the 
mouth of the lane by Samll. Deforest's bam be- 
tween the Dwelling house of sd. Deforest and the 
Dwelling house of Thomas Lewis/* This added in- 
sult to injury, for the appeal was granted, again cut- 
ting Samuel off from his longed-for haven and that 
merely by the width of a lane ! 

The Lewises now worshipped contentedly in New 
Stratford. The de Forests waited a little longer and 
then Samuel and his sons Joseph and Nehemiah, 
thinking that they also might surely aspire to such 
privileges as were granted to others, sent a final 
memorial to the General Assembly in May, 1770, 
The answer to this is here given in full. 

Upon the Memorial of Samuel Deforest, Joseph 
Deforest and Nehemiah Deforest, Inhabitants of ye 
Parish of Ripton in ye Town of Stratford, Shewing to 
this Assembly that they live at great Distance from the 
place of Publick worship in said Parish of Ripton, and 
that they live so near to ye Place of Publick worship in 
the Parish of New Stratford in said town of Stratford 
that they conveniently can and actually do attend 
Publick Worship in said Parish of New Stratford, and 
that the whole of the Schooling of there Children is 
within said New Stratford Parish; Praying that ye 
Memorialists together with their Famalies and estats 
might bee sett oiF and annexed to the Parish of said 
New Stratford to all Intents and Purposes ; 

Resolved by this Assembly, that ye Memorialists 

[ 213 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose HiU together with their Famalies and estats bee and tliey 
hereby are sett off and annexed to said Parish of New 
Stratford and Exempted from Paying any Parochial 
or School charges for the future in said Parrish of Rip- 
ton, and to Injoy all Society Previledges and pay 
all Society and School Rates in said Parrish of New 
Stratford.* 

So these three dc Forests then became members 
in regular standing of New Stratford Parish; but 
Samuel, being a thrifty New Englander, succeeded 
in having "ye sum of Eighteen Shillings Reducted 
out of his Ministers- Rate" for the year because he 
joined the ecclesiastical society in May instead of 
January. 

Great as was the satisfaction to Samuel and Abi* 
gail in being at last included in the parish to which 
they logically belonged, the society privileges had 
come too late to be of benefit in bringing up even 
the youngest members of their family. In 1770 
their sons and daughters, with the exception of 
Nehemiah, were no longer in the Moose Hill home. 
All then living were married — three sons and four 
daughters — and, with the exception noted above, 
had gone to homes of their own. 

Samuel was now sixty-six years old, Abigail sixty- 
three ; and as the latter had had a goodly amount 
of land left to her by her father, Samuel Peat, she 

* Connecticut Colony Records, State Library, Hartford. 
Ecclesiastical Affairs, vol. xiii, doc. 2. 

[ 214 ] 



Samuel de Forest 



decided, "with the allowance, aprobation and con- Moose nm 

sent '* of her husband to make her will while she was 

still "of sound mind and memory/' She began, as 

was the custom of the day, by saying, " I resign my 

soul into the hands of God who gave it • . . and 

my body to return to the dust whence it was taken/' 

It is to be noted that Abigail's estate consisted 
principally of land. As was usual, she left to her 
eldest son, Joseph, more than to her other sons — 
"Ten pounds worth in lands" over and above the 
tracts given to them. To her four daughters — 
those dear girls with whom she had lived in such 
intimate and mutually helpful association in the 
household — she left nothing ! One would think that 
merely from sentiment she would have liked to give 
each of them a choice bit of land, but this omission 
also was according to custom. The will gives this 
explanation: "They being all married off and my 
said husband having already given to each of them 
what I think sufficient." All the remainder was to be 
divided among her three sons: Joseph, Nehemiah, 
and David, "in such manner and proportion as to 
make them equal recconing what my said husband 
has already given any of them by deed." 

One other provision she made. Should her hus- 
band " live and stand in need of said estate for his 
support," the executors (Samuel himself and Ne- 
hemiah) were to sell enough land to furnish him 
with an "honorable support." This was presumably 

[215] 



Samuel de Forest 



Moose Hiu in anticipation of an old age for her husband, but 
neither Samuel nor Abigail lived to be very old. 
Abigail died on September 21, 1776, aged seventy 
years ; and Samuel, six months later, on March 24^ 
1777, aged seventy-three. 

As Samuel at the time of his death belonged to the 
parish of New Stratford, he and Abigail were un- 
doubtedly interred in the "new burying ground,'* 
but all traces of graves there have long ago disap- 
peared. 

Neither Samuel's will nor his inventory has been 
found, but Abigail's personal estate was appraised 
by her sons-in-law, Elisha Mills and Milton Hawley, 
at nearly £1,000, even at the low valuation undoubt- 
edly put upon it. She owned the "Olde Homestead" 
on Moose Hill (pver twenty-eight acres) and the 
"equal half of the house and bam standing thereon," 
valued at £220. There were also mentioned the 
Tylee lot, twenty-three acres, £100; Kady lot, four- 
teen acres, £117; east side of the highway, twenty- 
three acres, £137; at Deep Brook, eighteen acres, 
£105; adjoining the homestead of Joseph de Forest 
deceased, forty-five acres, £292. A goodly inheri- 
tance for her sons ! 

What had become of Samuel and Abigail's large 
family * at the time of the parents' decease ? Mary 
Mills was still living in Ripton. Hepzibah Hawley 



^ For an account of Samuel's children see Appendix, 
p. 297. 



[ai6] 



Samuel de Forest 



was in her home on Bam Hill. Martha and Eliza- Moose Hiu 
beth were both married and apparently had moved 
elsewhere. Of the sons, Joseph, Samuel, and Josiah 
were dead, David had moved to Derby, on the 
banks of the Housatonic, and Nehemiah alone, of 
all that large family, was left on that lovely hilltop. 



<^%4^^^^ 



VII 

THE DE FORESTS IN WAR TIME 

THE death of Samuel de Forest of Moose 
Hill has brought our record down to the 
year following the Declaration of American 
Independence. Samuel himself was too old a man 
to take part in the Revolutionary War, although he 
was active, as we know, in the local military organi- 
zations ; but his son Nehemiah was in the prime of 
manhood during the stirring days of the colonial 
struggle with England. Nehemiah's part in that 
struggle will be told in the chapter relating especi- 
ally to him. Before we begin our story of Nehe- 
miah's life, however, it seems worth while to pause 
long enough to offer the facts that we have gleaned 
concerning those de Forests whose war records have 
been preserved to us, and something, as well, of the 
part played by Connecticut during the war. Ne- 
hemiah will then be seen against the background of 
his period. 

So far we have spoken of this family as simple 
farmer-folk, tilling their lands and trading with their 
neighbors, not concerned, however, with their home 
industries only, but giving much time and thought 
tp two outside interests : the affairs of their eccle- 
siastical societies and of their train bands. Their 

[218] 



The de Forests in War Time 

military exercises were now to be of practical value 
to them in the stem years of the Revolutionary 
War. 

The Connecticut Revolutionary records are very 
incomplete and it is extremely difficult — in fact, 
impossible — to give an accurate account of the 
doings of the descendants of David de Forest of 
Stratford during the war, but the following notes 
have been compiled with as much care as possible 
from the military records of Connecticut, from the 
files of the Pension and War Offices in Washington, 
and from items discovered in old letters and papers. 

Before 1739 the militia of Connecticut had a com- 
pany organization only, but at that time the law- 
making body of the colony enacted that these com- 
panies be formed into properly officered regiments 
with the Governor as Commander-in-chief, and 
that all males between sucteen and fifty years of age 
should bear arms and attend the musters and re- 
views.* In spite of this forethought on the part of 
the colonists, in the year 1774 ^U the able-bodied 
men in the colony, whether already drilled or not, 
who could be counted on as militia and called on for 
the defense of Connecticut did not exceed twenty- 
three thousand.* 

* Hinman, R. R. Historical Collection ... of the part 
sustained by Conn, during the War of the Revolution, p. 9. 

* Hinman, R. R. War of the American Revolution, p. 12; 
Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the 
Revolution, p. 428. 

[ 219 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Such were the military resources of the colony 
when in June, 1774, the "Boston Port Bill'* was 
promulgated and the harbor of Boston blockaded. 
Great excitement reigned all through Connecticut, 
and Stratford and her sister towns passed resolutions 
of sympathy and "took into their serious considera- 
tion the unhappy circumstances of the poor people 
of Boston, now suffering in the common cause of 
American liberty under the oppressive acts of the 
British Parliament called the Boston Port Bill ; and 
thereupon unanimously voted, that a subscription 
be immediately opened, and collection be made and 
sent as soon as may be, for the relief of the poor suf- 
ferers in that town/' ^ Contributions of all kinds, 
including live stock and breadstuffs, were sent from 
Connecticut to Boston. 

In a very short time fuel was added to the flame by 
reports that the British ships were bombarding 
Boston and that the inhabitants were being mas- 
sacred. Then all the colony rose with the cry, "To 
arms!" Guns were put in order, ammunition made 
ready, and soon the roads to Boston were crowded 
with men hurrying thither. Hinman says, " By the 
most moderate computation, there were in the colony 
of Connecticut alone, not less than twenty thousand 
men completely armed, actually on their march for 
Boston, with full speed, until counter intelligence 

^ Orcutt, Rev. Samuel. History of Stratford and Bridge- 
port, p. 373. 

[ 220 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

was received on the road. This alarm was on the 
3d of September, 1774/* ^ According to this state- 
ment, which is probably exaggerated, the number 
of men who thus sprang forward to the defense of 
their brothers in Boston was within three thousand 
of the full fighting strength of the colony. 

Liberty poles now began to be erected in most of 
the towns of Connecticut, many of them over one 
hundred feet high, and the enthusiasts called them- 
selves the "Sons of Liberty." The winter of 1775 
was a period of suspense; even the Connecticut 
Assembly spoke of " the dark and gloomy aspect of 
Divine" Providence." 

On April 19, 1775, the battle of Lexington took 
place. Apparently Stratford sent no contingent — 
in truth, many of her citizens were at this time 
rather lukewarm or still "loyal to the British 
Crown" — but the feeling of the townspeople as 
expressed in the Town Records certainly rings true. 
Immediately after the battle a small group of promi- 
nent Connecticut men organized an expedition for 
the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, even borrowing 
the necessary money from the colonial treasury and 
making themselves personally responsible for its 
return. According to one authority. Colonel David 
Wooster of New Haven (who by birth belonged to 
Stratford) was one of the promoters of this daring 

^ Hinman, R. R. War o£ *the American Revolution, 
p. 20. 

[ 221 ] 



The de Forests in War 



undertaking.^ Ethan Allen, himself from Connect- 
icut, as were many of the men in the expedition, 
succeeded, as we all know, in surprising Ticonderoga 
on May loth and in wresting the fort from the hands 
of the British without the loss of a man. This was 
perhaps the most brilliant exploit of the war and 
also the first offensive military operation of the 
Americans. 

There is no record of any de Forests having been 
present at Ticonderoga, but we shall see that some 
of them had already answered the call of their 
country. 

In April, 1775, the General Assembly at New 
Haven had ordered that one quarter of the Con- 
necticut militia be enlisted for "the safety and 
defence of the colony.'^ Six regiments were there- 
fore raised, and of these General David Wooster, 
who had already served in the French and Indian 
War, was placed in conmiand with the rank of 
Major-General. Privates in this militia organiza- 
tion were paid £2 per month for their services, and 
those who furnished their own arms — gun, car- 
touche box, and bayonet — received ten shillings 
extra. The description of a body of soldiers of this 
period given years afterward by an aged man brings 
their picture vividly before us. 

^ Hinman, R. R. War of 'the American Revolution, 
p. 141. See also, for a different account, Johnston, H. P. 
Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, p. 29. 



[ 222 J 



The de Forests in War Time 

To a man they wore small clothes coming down and 
fastening just below the knee and long stockings with 
cowhide shoes ornamented by large buckles, while not 
a pair of boots graced the company. The coats and 
waistcoats were loose and of huge dimensions with 
colors as various as the barks of oak, sumach and other 
trees of our hills and swamps could make them, and 
their shirts were all made of flax and like every other 
part of the dress were homespun. On their heads were 
worn a large round top and broad brimmed hat. Their 
arms were as various as their costume; here and there 
an old soldier carried a heavy queen's arm, with which 
he had done service at the conquest of Canada 20 
years previous, while by his side walked a stripling boy 
with a Spanish fuzee not half its weight or calibre, 
which his grandfather may have taken at Havana, 
while not a few had old French pieces that dated back 
to the reduction of Louisburg. Instead of a cartridge 
box a large powder horn was slung under the arm and 
occasionally a bayonet might be seen bristling in the 
ranks. Some of the swords of the officers had been 
made by our province blacksmiths, perhaps from some 
farming utensil. They looked serviceable but heavy 
and uncouth.^ 

Undoubtedly the fall of Ticonderoga and the 
garrisoning of the fort with a force of 1,000 men 
stimulated the patriotism of all who had already 
enlisted and caused many others to enter their 
country's service. In any event, among those who 
had already responded to the Connecticut Assem- 

^ Cothren, William. History of Woodbury, vol. i, pp. 
205-06. 

[ 223 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

bly*s first call for troops we find the names of several 
Samuel of wuton de Forests. On May 8th Samuel de Forest, son 
Datfid of Wilton, of David of Wilton I St/ and his nephew, David 
3rd of Wilton 3rd (son of Samuel's brother David), had 
enlisted in the Fifth Connecticut Militia Regiment. 
WiUiam A few days later two of their cousins, William, 
Henry SOU of Edward of StKitford, and Henry, son of 
Henry of Moose Hill, both grandsons of David 
of Stratford, also enlisted in the same regiment. 
They were all young, their ages ranging from seven- 
teen to twenty-nine years, and of course they were 
filled with zealous enthusiasm for the cause in 
which they were enrolled.* 

The Fifth Connecticut, which was recruited 
mainly in Fairfield County, was a popular regiment 
with these young de Forests. It was gallantly com- 
manded by Colonel David Waterbury of Stamford, 
and its white standard with the Connecticut coat of 
arms on one side and on the other the golden legend, 
"An Appeal to Heaven,'* expressed very charactcr- 

* It must be explained that the sons of David dc Forest of 
Stratford may be identified by their Christian names fol- 
lowed by the names of their places of residence, as David of 
Wilton, Samuel of Moose Hill, Isaac of New Milford, Ed- 
ward of Stratford, Henry of Moose Hill, and Benjamin of 
Ripton. 

* The cpmplete records so far as we know them of 
Samuel and his nephew David, of their cousins, William and 
Henry, and of all the other de Forests serving in the Revolu- 
tionary War, or in the French and Indian War, are to be 
found in the Appendix, pp. 317 ff. 

[ 224 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

istically the spirit of the times. At the instance of 
the Continental Congress and the New York au- 
thorities the regiment marched in June to New 
York, doing guard duty in Harlem and Long Island 
until about September 28th, when, again under 
orders from Congress, it went to the Northem De- 
partment under Major-General David Wooster. At 
Ticonderpga Wooster joined General Montgomery, 
and after this gallant officer was killed before Que- 
bec on December 31, 1775, Wooster was appointed 
to fill his place as Commander-in-chief. About this 
time the Fifth Connecticut was formally included 
in the "Continental Line/* With the other seven 
Connecticut regiments raised in this year it had been 
considered "Continental'' from the time of its first 
activity. There was some disaffection and much 
sickness among the men, and many discharges are 
recorded for October and November, among others 
those of William and Henry de Forest in the former 
month. David remained with the regiment until 
the term of its first enlistment expired in December, 
1775. Of Samuel we know that although he was 
discharged from the regiment on September 17th 
he must have promptly re-enlisted, for his name is 
among those of the Fifth CcNfinecticut who in 1775 
"returned their arms at Ticonderoga by order of the 
general." 

The record for the year 1776 is difficult to follow, 
but it is clear that the three Connecticut regiments 

[ 225 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

doing duty in Canada returned home in December, 
1775. The Fifth Connecticut practically lost its 
identity until the reorganization of 1777, when ive 
again find Samuel on its rolls, this time as a sergeant. 
It is possible he may have served with General 
David Wooster in a small state force along the West- 
chester border, or he may with more probability 
have followed the fortunes of his Colonel, David 
Waterbury, under whose leadership one of the Con- 
necticut regiments was then raised. These troops 
served from February to April, 1776, throwing up de- 
fenses in New York and vicinity. Later in the spring 
Colonel, then Brigadier-General Waterbury, 'was 
appointed to the command of two regiments which 
served under General Gates in the Northern De- 
partment. Waterbury was assigned to service with 
the flotilla on Lake Champlain under General 
Arnold. The rolls for both of these organizations, 
which served in New York and Canada, are incom- 
plete, which fact may explain the absence of any 
record for 1776 of Samuel and possibly of his friends 
in the old Fifth Connecticut. In any event, we 
know Samuel to have been a '* Regular" practically 
from the beginning of the war until its end, and 
to have attained the rank of Lieutenant. We 
shall hear more of his exploits later, but we 
must return for the present to Stratford and the 
year 1775. 
, All was now enthusiasm in the town, and every- 

[ 226 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

one was eager to enlist or, at any rate, to be en- 
rolled among the militia who could be called upon 
when necessary. The old people as well as the young 
were thus affected, for the historian Hinman tells 
us, "About sixty aged gentlemen of Middletown 
(as was the case in other towns in Connecticut) 
formed themselves into a company to attain the 
military art, with a determination of preserving the 
liberty of their country; the drummer of said com- 
pany was over eighty years of age, and was as much 
engaged and alert as in his younger days." 

A meeting between Washington and Lafayette 
which occurred at Stratford in 1775 added to the 
excitement. Lafayette, with some other officers 
approaching the Housatonic unheralded from the 
eastward, was ferried across to the Stratford land- 
ing-place. There the innkeeper's little daughter, 
whom he found picking berries, conducted him up 
the old Ferry Road to her father's tavern, where 
General Washington was already awaiting him, the 
latter having arrived in an equally unexpected man- 
ner from the opposite direction. The two generals 
dined together on whatever simple fare the tavern 
afforded, including some potatoes, in those days 
quite a rarity, despatched their business, and then 
departed as quietly as they had come. We can im- 
agine, however, the great excitement which the news 
of this meeting caused throughout the countryside 
when it became known, and the fresh enthusiasm 

[ 227 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

to serve their country which it created among the 
young recruits. 

In June, 1776, Washington's army at New York 
needed reinforcement, and the First Connecticut 
Battalion, commanded by Colonel Gold S. Silliman 
of Fairfield, was ordered to its assistance. The young 
men of Ripton could no longer resist. Another 

Samuel the Fifer SaMUEL DE FoREST, SOU of Joseph of MoOSe Hill 

and eldest grandson of Samuel and Abigail, hastened 
to enter this battalion. He was only eighteen years 
old, but he had already served for six months in a 
company of volunteers raised in Stratford for the 
defense of New York. Samuel was a fifer, and we 
may be sure that he stepped out proudly leading his 
battalion with the other fifes and drums. It is related 
of him that he was in charge at this time of a boat- 
load of wheat sent to Washington from Long Island. 
Samuel the Fifer, ^ as we shall call him, was later 
among the militia who served during the Fairfield 
alarm when the town was burned in 1779. Of him 
we shall hear more presently. 
Timothy His cousin TiMOTETST, SOU of Hcury of Moose Hill, 
who was a few years older than Samuel, enlisted at 
the same time. Timothy was in Fort Washington 
when it fell on November i6th, and was made a 
prisoner with the rest of the garrison. 
A couple of months after these enrollments, David 

^ Samuel's record is burdened with some inconsistencies. 
For a full statement of these, see Appendix, p. 328 ff. 

[ 228 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

of Wilton 3rd, nephew of Lieutenant Samuel, hav- 
ing returned from his northem service, re-enlisted 
in a Connecticut militia regiment, which was also 
summoned to the relief of Washington. His cousin 
Uriah de Forest, another grandson of David of Uriah 
Wilton I St, went in the same regiment, and both 
were in active service during the sununer of 1776. 

Isaac de Forest of New Milford, another cousin, /j^^ 
was a neighbor of the Wilton de Forests. He was an 
older man, forty-two years old at this time, and had 
seen service in two campaigns during the French and 
Indian War. In this same June, 1776, he was ap- 
pointed a first lieutenant ^ in Colonel Silliman's bat- 
talion and was engaged in the battles of Long Island 
and White Plains. 

Nehemiah de Forest, the innkeeper, son of Sam- 
uel of Moose Hill, who was now living at New Strat- 
ford, although he did not enlist, performed the equally 
necessary and important service of collecting funds 
and provisions for the suffering armies. 

Minister Rexford, too, the beloved guardian of the 
New Stratford flock, was not to be outdone. He was 

"loyal to country and to freedom," and when so 

^^■^-^■^■~-~-*^-~^^ I" ■ ^^— ^— ^^— — .— ^^..^^ 

* In the War Office there is a record dated June, 1776, 
which shows Isaac to have been appointed by the Assembly 
Lieutenant-Colonel of the First Battalion of Connecticut 
troops, one of the six battalions ordered to be raised and sent 
to New York to join the Continental Army. This record says 
that he '* served," but we can find no other verification of his 
having held a higher rank than that of first lieutenant. 

[ 229 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

many of his parishioners enlisted, he also, in 1776, 
joined one of the Connecticut regiments as chaplain. 

Before the simimer of 1776 was over no less than 
ten young Connecticut de Forests had enlisted. One 
was a son of David of Wilton ist and two his grand- 
sons, one was a grandson of Samuel of Moose Hill, 
two were sons of Henry of Moose Hill, one was a son 
of Edward of Stratford, and one a son of Isaac of 
New Milford, while ^among those whose exact con- 
nection with the Stratford de Forests it has not been 
lUuben possible to tKice, at least two, Reuben and Ebene- 
&eneur ZER of Stamford, were also fighting for their country. 

Except for the state militia service and the cam- 
paign in the Northern Department, all the Con- 
necticut troops which we have mentioned were in or 
near New York until after the defeat on Long Island 
and the evacuation of New York City in August, 
1776. The troops from Connecticut were then dis- 
banded — if so formal a term may be applied to the 
extremely informal manner of their departure — ^and 
the men returned to their neglected homes. 

What had become of their farms during the ab- 
sence of the farmer-soldiers, many of whom had been 
away from home during two summers? The women 
had to do their best. They made themselves familiar 
with the use of plough, axe, and sickle; they har- 
vested the crops of 1775, and planted, as best they 
could, for the crops of 1776. An old woman of Con- 
necticut, when questioned long years afterward as to 

[ 230 ] 



r 



DAVID WOOSTER, ESQR., COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE PROVINCIAL 
ARMY AGAINST QUEBEC 



The de Forests in War Time 

how many of the men went to the war, promptly 
answered, "They all did!" 

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence 
was adopted by the Continental Congress, and it 
became the grave responsibility of each separate 
colony to sanction it. Connecticut was the first col- 
ony to vote for this measure, which she did the fol- 
lowing October. 

In April, 1777, the British for the first time in- 
vaded Connecticut. The object of their raid was the 
destruction of a large deposit of military stores and 
provisions held at Danbury by the colonists. The 
militia within reach, only six hundred in all, were 
hastily collected to defend the towns of Danbury and 
Ridgefield, but being unprepared and inexperienced, 
they were completely routed, and many of the officers 
were killed or wounded. A Lieutenant de Forest — 
probably Isaac — who was present with the rest of 
his company, was shot in the leg in the Ridgefield 
engagement. The gallant David Wooster, who had 
hastened to the relief of Danbury, received a mortal 
wound and died on April 27th. He was a brave 
officer, an ardent patriot, and his loss was greatly 
felt throughout the state and indeed throughout the 
country. 

On January i, 1777, some months before the Dan- 
bury raid, "32 able-bodied men in Ripton Parish'* 
enlisted and chose their own officers. Among them 
wasNEHEMiAH,sonof Benjamin of Ripton. He later Nehemiah 

[ 231 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

became a corporal in a Connecticut militia regiment 
and did good service. 
Joseph Joseph de Forest, son of Edward of Stratford, 
jitnus and his cousin James enlisted in the Fourth Regi- 
ment, Connecticut Militia. With others they w^ere 
detached in March, 1777, to form a company of 
guards under Captain James Booth. They were sta- 
tioned at Fairfield and Stratford and may have been 
present at the Danbury raid in April, 1777. 

Samuel the Fifer, who gave his country almost 
continuous service during these early years of the 
Abel war, had three younger brothers, of whom two, Abel 
Muis and Mills by name, enlisted at about this time. 
Abel served in militia companies, doing guard duty 
at Stratford, probably in 1777, and in the neighbor- 
hood of Horseneck in 1778. Mills went with another 
company of Connecticut militia to do guard duty 
at Saw Pitts (Port Chester), New York, in 1778, 
and served in Stratford in the same year. Although 
younger than Abel, he was before him in entering 
the Continental service, for we find him joining the 
army at White Plains in midsummer of the same 
year, whence he was sent to work on the military 
road from Hartford to Danbury ! After some inter- 
vening months of militia service, he again joined the 
Connecticut Line in July, 1779. Abel, too, had 
meanwhile joined a state regiment, the Sbrth, in 
May, 1779, and saw practically constant service for 
some time thereafter. 

[ 232 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Other de Forests continued to enlist. Elisha, son Eiiska 
of Edward of Stratford, who had already fought in 
the French and Indian War, although older than 
most of his soldier nephews and cousins, enlisted 
again in 1779. He became a lieutenant and later a 
captain. 

A certain cousin of his, Elihu by name, a son of Eiihu 
David of Wilton, had also served in two campaigns 
of the French and Indian War. He too was a man of 
some matuiity — forty-two years or over — but in 
1779 he enrolled himself on the Alarm List of the 
same regiment with Elisha and the following year 
was advanced to be a captain. Two years afterward, 
DAvro Lambert de Forest, a grandson of David David Un^^ 
of Wilton, also appears in the militia records. 

Before we carry our story to any later date, we 
must pause to say more of the first soldier de Forest 
whom we mentioned — the one whose service was 
also the most notable, Lieutenant Samuel of Wilton. Luvtefunu 
When we last saw him he had returned from the ^^^^^ 
Northem Department with Woostcr and in the 
spring of 1777 was encamped at Peekskill. On 
October 4th of the same year his regiment, the Fifth 
Connecticut Line, fought in General McDougall's 
Brigade with Washington in the battle of German- 
town and was with him during the terrible winter of 
hardship and suffering at Valley Forge in 1777-78. 
The regiment was present at the battle of Mon- 
mouth and wintered in 1778-79 at Redding. In 

[ 233 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

1779-80 it wintered at the "Morristown huts" and 
spent the following siunmer on the Hudson. The 
winter of 1780-81, a frightfully cold season, was 
spent at Connecticut Village ^ on the Hudson. The 
soldiers often had to work without shoes and 
stockings when the snow was half-leg deep. 

In the siunmer of 1779 Lieutenant Samuel de 
Forest was made one of a special corps, known as 
Meigs's Light Regiment, composed of picked men 
from all the regiments then under Washington's 
immediate command, to serve under General 
Anthony Wayne. It was this corps which was en- 
gaged in the gallant and successful assault on Stony 
Point on July 16, 1779. 

While Washington was absent in Virginia in the 
fall of 1 78 1, the Fifth Connecticut was stationed 
under General Heath in the Highlands on the Hud- 
son River, where the troops had little to do except to 
guard against attacks from parties of the British, 
who were then in possession of New York. The 
winter of comparative inaction gave them plenty of 

^ In December, 1779, one of the oflBcers in this same camp 
wrote: "The lads bore it with the greatest patience and 
fortitude . . . after our arrival we began and completed our 
hutts which destroyed our clothing still more. . . . Many a 
good lad with nothing to cover him from his hips to his 
toes save his blanket." A year later when the huts were 
no longer in good condition, Heath gave orders that " 50 
men from the Conn, line of those worst clad under com- 
mand of proper officers are to be sent to repair the huts." 
Let us hope " those worst clad " were given new uniforms. 

[ 234 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

time to watch with great interest the movements of 
the Conmiander-in-chief and to indulge in a military- 
jubilee when they heard the news of the surrender of 
Comwallis on October 19, 1781.^ 

During this period of inactivity occurred an ex- 
ploit in which our Samuel greatly distinguished him- 
self. The affair was mentioned in General Heath's 
orders of November 18, 178 1. "On the moming of 
the 13 th inst., Lieut, De Forest of the Connecticut 
Line with about 25 Regular Troops, & Capt, Lock- 
wood of the militia, with 15 volunteers, including 
Lieuts. Hull & Mead, of the Connecticut State 
Troops, form'd a design to board an arm'd Sloop of 
10 carriage guns, then at anchor in East Chester 
Bay, which they effected with much address & great 
gallantry; besides the arm'd sloop five or six wood 
vessels were taken & in the whole about 40 prisoners, 
25 of which were soldiers; the whole was conducted 
much to the honor of all concemed. 

"The Genl. presents his thanks to Lieut. De 
Forrest, Capt. Lockwood, Lts. Hull & Mead & all 
the troops employed on the enterprise for their gal- 

^ Tidings of this surrender reached Stratford while the 
Rev. Izrahiah Wetmore was preaching his Sunday sermon. 
The news was taken immediately to the pulpit, where the 
pastor made it known to the congregation and then, draw- 
ing himself to his greatest height (and he was a very tall 
man), he said: "It is no place for boisterous demonstra- 
tion in the house of God — but, brethren, in giving three 
cheers, we may at least go through the motions!" And 
they did. 

[ 23s ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

lant behavior." ^ Samuel de Forest, being a lieuten- 
ant in the Regulars, was no doubt in conunand of 
the expedition and outranked Captain Lockwood.^ 

In connection with Samuel of Wilton it is amusing 
to remember that part of the statue of George III, 
torn down in New York in 1776 to be melted into 
bullets, had been taken to Wilton to supply lead for 
the Wilton troops. Samuel's belt (if that was where 
he carried his bullets) was probably full of his Han- 
overian Majesty and the stubborn old gentleman 
may even have served, as it were, against himself in 
this capture of his sloop I 

When the war was over, Lieutenant Samuel de 
Forest with his brother officers became members of 
the Connecticut division of the Society of the Cin- 
cinnati, the gallant band that desired ""to perpetuate 
. . . the remembrance of this vast event . . . the mu- 
tual friendships . . . formed under the pressure of 
common danger . . . and cemented by blood.*' Pos- 
sessing "high veneration for the character of that 
illustrious Roman, Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus, and 
being resolved to follow his example by returning to 
their citizenship," they thought they might "with 
propriety denominate themselves The Society of the 
Cincinnati." 

^ Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, p. 306. 

* Captain Eliphalet Lockwood of Wilton, brother of 
Nehemiah de Forest's wife, Mary Lockwood, who greatly 
distinguished himself during the war. 

[236] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Meanwhile the young de Forests of Moose HUl 
were also serving their country faithfully, either in 
militia regiments or in those state organizations 
which were under the authority of Congress. In 
1778, Gideon de Forest, then not yet fourteen CitUoH 
years old, the youngest son of Joseph of Moose Hill 
and brother of Samuel the Fifer, enlisted in a militia 
company. Later he was in Waterbury's Brigade and 
still later in " whale-boat service " under Captain 
John Barlow. 

In the simimer of 1780, when the war was still 
dragging its weary length, Gideon's elder brothers, 
Abel and Mills, were on the rolls of the Fifth Regi- jtbei 
ment, Connecticut Line, in which so many of their 
family had already enlisted. In this organization the 
brothers saw active service on the Hudson and else- 
where. They were present at the hanging of Major 
Andre, Abel being so near that he laid his hand on 
the scaffold.^ 

^ It is a matter of general information that Andre was 
accompanied on the way to the place of his execution by 
four officers detailed for this duty. " A captain's company 
of some thirty or forty men marched immediately about 
these, while an outer guard of five hundred infantry envir- 
oned the whole and formed a hollow square around the 
gibbet." Sargent, Winthrop. Life of Andre, p. 442. In view 
of the fact that two members of the court that tried An- 
dre General Samuel Parsons, of New London, and General 
Jedediah Huntington, of Norwich, were brigade command- 
ers serving with Connecticut troops on the Hudson at this 
time, it is extremely probable that the regiment of Mills 
and Abel was represented at the execution. 

[ 237 ] 



J The de Forests in War Time 



These four grandsons of our old friends Samuel 
and Abigail are often spoken of as the " Four Revolu- 
tionary Brothers." As they were going off to the 
war, their mother, Susanna Mills de Forest, said to 
them, "My sons, I hope you will do honor to your- 
selves and to your country." We know that they did. 
A long time afterward, in 1835, the four brothers, 
who were all on the pension roll of their country, had 
a reunion at the home of Gideon at Edmeston, New 
York. It was over half a century since they had all 
been together, and they were now seventy-seven, 
seventy-four, seventy-two, and seventy years of age. 
A local paper said : "They are upwards of six feet in 
height, strongly built, and with one exception they 
all walk with a firm step.'* 

We are fortunate in having preserved to us the 
personal narrative of the oldest brother, Samuel the 
Fifer. This narrative, here reprinted in its entirety, 
was found in the files of the Government Pension 
Office in Washington, attached to Samuel's applica- 
tion for a pension, made in 1832 when he was 
seventy-four years of age.^ 



^ For full details of Samuel's service see Appendix, p. 328 ff. 



[ 238 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 



Narrative of Samuel de Forest son of 
Joseph and eldest grandson of Samuel 
and Abigail 

In the Fall of 1775 when the British evacuated Bos- SwmuI Hki Fifet 
ton went to Halifax and there wintered General Lee 
with directions from Washington went to New York 
to advertise them to make preparations to receive 
them next Spring on the way to New York He gave 
notice to Conn, that they would be invited to throw 
their strength toward New York Capt. Sam'l Black- 
man inhabitant of North Stratford (part of the time 
of Old Stratford) Captain of Company of Light Horse 
made in December would not wait to be Drafted he 
would raise a Company of Volunteer Infantry and 
march on foot to New York Raised Company at once 
I enlisted in his Company Command marched (as 
well as I can remember) about November ist Passed 
old Fairfield Norwalk Middlesex Stamford Horse Neck 
last town in Conn. First town in New York Rye 
New Katchel [New Castle] Estchester Westchester 
Kingsbridge Harlem New York Capt. Blackman was 
introduced to the New York Committee which was 
the Highest Authority in the Country Capt. Blackman 
was the ist Company of Volunteers or Militia to offer 
Service in fortifying New York He proposed that we 
might soon Set about it. 

New York commanded by Gen.l Lee Orders met 
us on the grand parade It was on a cold day and he 
was drest with a coarse blue duffelse overcoat he gave 
us a Short address it was with perth [pith?] and brev- 

[ 239 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

• 

SaiMul the Fifer ity he Went to Phila, where congress then Set From 

some authority we were sent up to Harlam swamps 
to make fashheans [fascines] it was inquired for 'what 
use are they and how made fashheans are a Substi- 
tute for stones to make walls or forts they were used 
for those purposes long before the christian era his- 
tory informs us that Julius Caesar by Seting a row 
of post in the ground and anothere row on the op- 
posite side and then by placing bunches of fashsheans 
on the inside of the 2 rows of post and then casting in 
the center gravil or sand this course will make a strong 
wall or fort we eat breakfast early and travelled from 
7 to 8 miles and did our Stunt which was to make 2 
bunches of fashsheans and return to our lodgings a 
fashshean must be 8 foot long 7 or 8 inches thick fast- 
ened with a withe at each end and a withe in the middle 
the New York committee employed carmon to convey 
the bunches of fashshean where they were to be used 
for forts when warm weather began to comon we made 
a tryal and proceeded well in making a fort with 
fashsheans ^ but by this time a new Gen.l presented 
himself to us his name was Thomson * he was the 
1st Europeon who had presented himself before Con- 
gress with recommendatory documents his personal 
appearance was elegant and his address to his adopted 

^ ''The shore of Manhattan Island was girded with small 
forts and redoubts, which Lee had erected in the spring 
before his departure for South Carolina." 

John Fiske. American Revolution, vol. i, p. 205. 

* William Thompson. He served honorably in the French 
and Indian War, and was placed in command of the first 
troops raised on the demand of the Continental Congress — 
a battalion of eight companies recruited after the battle of 
Lexington. 

[ 240 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 



country was Eloquence he left us that day and went Samuel tJU FiSit 
to our Northern army Capt. Blackman soon began 
to make arrangements to return home there was an 
eastern man lay at the Dock with a vessel he hired him 
to take us to fairfield or Norwalk but he landed at 
Middlesex I cannot tell nothing about the date except 
the people were ploughing and sowing grain I had a 
short respet (5 months and ^) we began to hear of 
New York that the British army was fast assembling 
and pitching there tents on Statton Island and that 
Gen.l Washington was calling in the Militia from all 
Quarters and according to the best of my reccoUection 
some time about July ist Col. Lewis* ^ Regiment was 
called on to repare to New York with his Regiment 
Capt. Tomlinson * of the parish of Ripton and Lieut. 
Peter Curtiss of the parish of North Stratford was to 
make out a Company between them I think we com- 
menced our March not fare from July ist I have some 
impression on my mind that Capt. Tomlinson with 
some of his men went by water and that Lieut Curtiss 
and myself who was Waiter to Lieut Curtiss and some 
othere ones went by land 

Col. Lewis had for his allarm post the Grand battery 
and at the beatting of the revolee every morning was 
with his Regiment at his post a rigid and Strict dis- 
cipline was observed through the army and Militia 
troops were flocking in from all parts of the country 
and to quench the ardor of the British army and in 

^ Lieutenant-Colonel Ichabod Lewis, of Stratford, in 
Colonel Gold S. Silliman's Regiment, the 4th Conn. Militia, 
composed of companies from Fairfield and Stratford. 

' Captain Beach Tomlinson, 4th Regiment, Conn. 
Militia. 

[ 241 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Samuel th Fifer was fithing about 1 1 o'clock Col. Lewis had order to 

march his Regt. along the Dock opposite Brooklin 
farry^ and when there saw an officer on horseback 
we concluded he was one of the General's aid's he 
informed us that he was calling for Volunteers to turn 
out and man every water craft which lay along the 
Dock all must know there was dreadful fighting and 
if our men were driven to retreat we wish to be able to 
bring them over this Tide one Wells Judson and myself 
turned out a perreauger was commited to our charg 
and we landed at Brookly ferry about (?) One o'clock 
the thunder of the British Artillery the roaring of the 
small arms of both armies was tremendious 

Judson and I walked up the ferry road and lay Down 
under a Shade for it was very warm and I drank some 
cold water while we lay under the board fence perhaps 
an hour ruminating on the terrors of the Day we 
heard the traping of men just over the knowl but we 
had hardly time to think before they hove in sight and 
the road was filled with red-coat regiments and again 
we had hardly time for Surprise before we saw they 
were prisoners and they were hurried over the ferry 
and threw the City and over the Hudson into Jersey 
we concluded there was between two and three hun- 
dred of them the firing ceased a little before sun down 
and a number of us go into a small boat and went back 
to our Regt. we learned soon that the flower of the 
army was killed and taken prisoner that Gen'l Lord 

* "By the morning of the 28th the commander-in-chief 
had drawn to the Brooklyn lines all the troops that could be 
spared from other points . . . something over nine thousand 
five hundred men fit for duty." 

Henry P. Johnston, Campaign of 1776, p. 208. 

[ 244 ] 



' 



The de Forests in War Time 

Stirling and Gen.l SuUavan and Several Brigadier gen- Samuel the Fifer 
erals and between 9 and 10 thousand soldiers were 
taken prisoner ^ the remaining of our army on Long 
Island retreated and pitched on the best and highest 
ground Just back of Bfookling and intrenched them- 
selves. Sudingly as well as they could the British army 
left flat Bush where the late and dreadful ilf ated battle 
had been lately fought and were planting themselves 
alongside our troops in order Soon to give the finish- 
ing Stroke to Washington's army. 

But shortly after I do not remember how many 
days a most wonderful thunderstorm took place ^ it 
commenced about i O'clock in the day the thunder 
and the lighting was dreadful the clouds were so low 
that they seemed to break over the houses and the 
water run in rivers the darkness was so graat that the 
2 armies could not see each other altho within 100 
rods of each other thro' the whole of that stormy 
afternoon they were crossing as fast as possible • but 

* Our entire force! This statement simply reflects the 
panic and the exaggerated reports current at the time. 

* "A Northeaster set in and the afternoon [of the 28th] 
was one of extreme discomfort and trial." ^^Wind and rain 
incessant." 

Henry B. Carrington, Battles of American Revolution, p. 
213. 

' Not until early on the 29th are there any extant orders 
for procuring boats for retreat, though Samuel tells us he 
responded to a call for volunteers issued during the battle. 
So far as we know, the embarkation of our troops began at 
nine p.m. and continued until midnight of the 29th. Sam- 
uel's later statements are in accord with this. 

E. M. Avery remarks in his History of the United States: 
"It is probable that orders had been previously issued to pro- 
vide transportation for the retreat if one became necessary." 

[ 24s ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Samuel th Fife? thejr themselves did no that they were retreating they 

came over to get a little rest and we to go over and 
take their places the Sergeant Major told us that Col. 
Lewis told him we must be prepared to go over the 
next morning in i hour after the Sergeant Major come 
to Capt. Tomlinson's Qrs. and marched us all forth to 
march up to the Grand parade in order to pass a re- 
view and take further orders the storm began at i and 
it was now 5 O^clock it now rained but not so bad the 
Co. could not turn out a Mr. Othniel French a nice 
and good man a friend and neighbor to my father he 
says to me the men will not turn out * Samuel you 
are a minute man will you turn out with me and go up 
to the Grand parade and see what is going to be done 
I says yes Mr. French I will go with you 

There was a few in othere Companies belonging to 
Col. Lewis' Regt. fell in and we were marched up to 
the grand parade and we found 3 or 4 hundred men 
there was an officer there who says to us Come on my 
brave boys I am glad you are not afraid of a few drops 
of water, by this time the rain had Subsided it ap- 
peared to be turned into mist and fog a picket Guard 
is to be set tonight a little this side Bunker Hill on 
the bowery* Mr. French says to me again Sam.l keep 

^ A propos of Samuel's ironical comments on the valor of 
his comrades, see Trevelyan's lively account of the informal 
state of discipline in the American army. The American 
Revolution, vol. i, part 2, pp. 181-208. 

« "* Bunker HilP at New York has been described in a 
London Magazine of 1781, saying it was so called by the 
Americans; it being in the revolution, three quarters of a 
mile out of town; a hill with a fort upon it." John F. Wat- 
son, Annals of New York City and State, p. 327. 

^^ There was a very high hill, once called ^Bayard's 

[ 246] 



The de Forests in War Time 

close to me I will Sir and we marched on and we come Samiul the Fijn 
to the house where the picket was to be kept and the 
Sergeant began to distribute the centinels Mr. French 
Says to the Sei^geant I wish you would be so good as 
to let this young lad stand next to me for there is none 
that either of us are aiquanted with and the Sergeant 
placed me close to the Guard house and Mr. French 
next I found out the whole of the 3 or 4 hundred men 
who marched with us was to form a line of centries 
from the North river to the East river once in 40 feet 
as soon as the centries were Set an officer on horse- 
back he rid close to me and says to me let no man 
pass you this night take no countersign nor watch- 
word if any man come to you See that he is put under 
guard you must keep Station here till morning there 
was no man thro the night the fog thickened and all 
was Silent as Death 

at about 12 O'clock and so on the dogs began to 
bark the cattle to low the Indians to howl and yell all 
these noises was from Long Island by reason of the 
thick and heavy fog and all the other dense qualities 
which conspired to tune the air like an organ we Sup- 
posed that the barking of the dogs and the lowing of 
the cattle and the howting and yeling of the indians 
was 2 miles from us it was said afterwards that per- 
haps there were 3 or 4 hndred indians attached to 
our army on Long Island they made as much noise 
as the yelling of 1000 under other circumstances, it 
was said that the indians was set to yelling that night 

Mount' on which the Americans built a fort, and called it 
Bunker Hill, in the time of the revolution, now cut down. 
It stood on present Grand Street a little east of Centre 
Market." Ibid., p. 176. 

[ ^47 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Samuel the Fifn by the counsel of Gen.l Putnam about day the noise 

was all Still and about Sun an hour high the fog began 
to go off at this instant a man in the appearance of an 
officer came up to the Guard house one of the officers 
asked him where he was from he replyed from Long 
Island Sir what's the word from there our army 
has all come aff the night past the officer says Jentl^ 
men this man ought to be put under guard the 
Jentleman who had just come up said you can put me 
under Guard if you please Sir but I presume that in 
less than 40 minutes you will find what I tell you is 
true the officer of the Guard now says Jentlemen if 
this is true we shall be all Sacrificed what can hinder 
the whole british Army now on Long Island flushed 
on conquest 4000 or 40,000 can march there way up 
the Island till they get opposite to Kingsbridge in 
4 hours And these fleets can send there the boats 
wich we see there cross there away from Stattan Island 
to Long Island in as short a time 

by this time Mr. French and I began to think about 
hunting up our couragious comrades and to learn 
whether they had kept themselves dry through the 
Storm I have but a confused reccoUection of what 
passed after this Scene all bussed and preparations for 
retreat out of the City as soon as possible Mr French 
and I after the fatigue of the stormy day and standing 
Gentry all night in our wet cloaths was quite sick and 
preparations was to leave the City next morning and 
l^e saw a man with a wagon that night from New 
Katchel and he hired him to carry us both to his house ^ 

* Washington is quoted as follows: "Great numbers [of 
the militia] have gone off, in some instances almost by whole 
regiments, by half ones, and by companies at a time." 

[ 248 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

we got our pass and went on and Stoped and recruted Samuel tJu Fifn 

and went on as I could I reached home the last of Sept. 

and soon listed under Lieut Burr ^ of Old Fairfield into 

the Black Rock battery Service 3 months and of the 

Draft last of September 1776 according to the best of 

my memory for i year Black Rock battery lay on the 

top of a rock alongside of a narrow and crooked channel 

environed on avery side with rocks which made it 

dangerous for vessels unaiquanted with the channel to 

enter I cannot remember how many cannon was placed 

on the platform I think 6 or 8 it belonged to the town 

of Fairfield and lay about half a mild East of the 

Courthouse and Jail I believe the Fortyfication was 

kept up till piece I have forgotten how many men was 

Supported for its Defense whether 30 or 40 I cannot 

tell 

There was no particular occurrence took place of 
notice until about the close of the year 1776 on the 
last of December Col. Abel ^ a Patriot and prominent 
character in the Town and County early in the morn- 
ing he sent his waiter a coulared man by the name of 
Bil molat with a message to Lieut Burr when molat 

Henry B. Carrington, Battles of American Revolution, 
p. 220. 

On September 8th Washington reported the militia of 
Connecticut then with him ^'as reduced from six to two 
thousand men'' and in a few days their number was but 
nominal, — twenty or thirty to some regiments. 

Ibid., p. 221. 

^ Lieutenant Isaac Burr of the Connecticut militia. 

* Presumably Major Elijah Abel of Fairfield, promoted 
Lieutenant-Colonel in May, 1782, 4th Regiment Conn. 
Militia (companies from Fairfield and Stratford). 

Record of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, p. 433. 

[ 249 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Samuel the Fijer had reached within perhaps 15 rods of the baraks he 

began to Shout and hollo Huzia Huzza Huzza and 
Jumpt up knocked his heels together and Shouted CoL 
Abel has news from Washington and he has taken the 
whole Hessian army Lieut Burr Holloed for Molat 
to come to the Barraks and when he came he presented 
a short brief Statement in print Stating that Washing- 
ton agreeable to a preconcerted plan commenced his 
march at dark through rain and hail and slait on Xmas 
day evening he arrived at Trintan the next morning 
before daylight and as they had been holding chris- 
mass frolics drove them out of there bunks and took 
them all prisoners thus the seting Sun of the dreadful 
Summer of 76 shed some rays of light on her horizon 
and was presageful of better days and the news flew 
swift throw the land in 3 days after that we had news 
that while 12000 British Soldiers was racing after 
Washington's whole army of less than 2000 While 
Lord Corn Wallise was in pursuit of Washington and 
his little army the British army halted on a hill and 
pitched there in encampment and [Washington] began 
to set fires at dark and left men enough to recrute 
them with rails through the night ^ and continued his 
march with his little army of less than 2000 20 miles 
reached princetown college in a dark foggy morning 
where there were 3 Regt. s of British Regulars en- 
camped, and them he made prisoners and the 5th 

* "All night long the American camp-fires were kept 
burning brightly, and small parties were busily engaged in 
throwing up intrenchments • . . near the Assumpink . . • 
While this was going on, the whole American army marched 
swiftly up the south bank . • • passed around Comwallis's 
left wing to his rear, and gained the road to Princeton." 

John Fiske, American Revolution, vol. i, p. 233. 

L 250 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 



day after at night were marched to Old Fairfield under Samiul th Fifer 

a guard of Major Joseph Hoyt the next morning Col. 

Abel sent a written request by his Waiter bil Molat for 

Lieut. Burr to send 2 of his men to come to town and 

take Charge of 2 of the Prisoners Major Hoyt had left 

behind and go on with them to Hartford the place of 

their Destination as Major Hoyt had but a small 

guard with him Lieut. Burr says John Parent and 

Sam. 1 De Forest be you willing to go on to Hartford 

with the Prisoners we both answered we were went 

over to town at once Col. Abel committed them to 

our Charge Major Hoyt had been gone about 2 hours 

one of the prisoner's name was Birk Sergeant Birk a 

smart intelligent likely young man I do not remember 

the others name this was an interesting and Joyous 

Scene when Contrasted with the dreadful Scenes which 

flashed in our eye and Stoned our ears in New York 

The recks of 3 British Reg. ts of Prisoners had just 
passed the doors of a people whose hearts palpitated 
with Joy and would come into the Streets to meet us 
with greetings of grateful Salutations to heaven for 
Such an unexpected deliverance as we passed through 
old Stratford and Milford Jentleman yea and men of 
every grade would almost block up the path we 
travelled Major Hoyt and his prisoners were billeted 
among the citizens the same as they had been in 
Fairfield this was in New Haven John Parent and I 
was taken to Mr. Elias Reaves' where we were treated 
with all the kind civilities we could wish this was the 
happiest enterprise I was engaged in we reached Wal- 
lingford the next day we reached the pretty litle city 
of Middletown the next day the fourth and last day 
we are at Hartford before I dismiss this subject I will 

[^51 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

Samml iki Fijer relate a little short narrative give us on our way f ron 

Fairfield to New Haven Sergent Berk said^ after 
Genl. Washington had made such a Suding and Suc- 
cessful assault in taking 3 or 4 Reg.ts of Hessians at 
Trintan and as many as 12000 of their best troops was 
in full pursuit of him and it was thought they would 
most assuredly get hold of him and the last accounts 
was the army had come up with him when we were 
taken it was a warm very foggy morning 

we had eaten our breakfast and were in the college 
yard Striped with our coats and hats off playing ball 
and as to having any fear about an army we felt as 
Safe as if we had been in the kingdon of heaven but at 
once we heard the sound of men's feet traming and 
I Stooped down and looked under the fog and I could 
see there legs as high as there hips not more than 6 
rods from us not a moment was left to look for our 
coats and hats I run for the pare of bares [pair of bars ?] 
they were pretty high I sprung and threw my breast 
across the top rail at that instant a ball from a field 
piece ' struck in the middle of the rail I was at one end 

^ This incident will illustrate the entire absence of ani- 
mosity between the soldiers on the two sides during the 
Revolutionary War, a fact which is emphasized in Sir George 
Trevelyan's The American Revolution. 

* "In the college buildings at Princeton (which, with the 
Presbyterian church, had been used for barracks by the 
Enemy) there remained a portion of a regiment. Washing- 
ton drew up some cannon within a short distance of these 
buildings, and commenced firing upon them. The first ball, 
it is said, entered the prayer hall, a room used as a chapel, 
and passed through the head of a portrait of George the 
Second, suspended in a large frame upon the wall. After a 
few discharges, Captain James Moore, of the Princeton 
militia, burst open a door of Nassau Hall, and demanded the 

[ 252 ] 



Hi 



The de Forests in War Time 

and an othere man at the othere end of the rail the ball Samuel the Fifer 
took the rail in two in the middle and I was cast to the 
ground Swift and gave me Such a Jare I thought myself 
mortally wounded and to sum it up you see we are 
all prisoners 

The events of two weeks appears to have rolled on 
a pivot which has sealed and gave a Stamp to the 
destiny of america 

Washington's 100,000 men who was destroyed on 
Long Island at the storming of Fort Washington and 
Fort Lee at the White Plains and finally were chased 
and hunted through the Jerseys until they were 
melted away to nothing 

(Signed) Samue D Forest 

During the long war Connecticut was known as 
the "provision state" because of the vast stores 
which she sent for the relief of the army. When, in 
the cruel winter at Valley Forge, Washington wrote 
that he must disband the army unless he received 
immediate and ample supplies, Connecticut's re- 
sponse was the forwarding of large droves of live 
cattle. She gave without stint, both of provisions 
and men. 

In Stratford Township, when it became necessary 
to induce more enlistments by offering bounties, as 
much as " ten pounds lawful silver money, or gold, 

surrender of the troops within. They instantly complied, 
and, with several invalids, were made prisoners." 

Benson J. Lossing, Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, 
p. 237. 

[ 253 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

or provisions equivalent" was offered to every 
"effective" man who would enlist in the Continental 
Amy for six months, and if he would enlist for the 
terai of the war, he was to receive six pounds annu- 
ally in addition. Ten pounds in those days was a 
large sum, and to pay these bounties the different 
towns had to tax themselves and toward the latter 
part of the war had even to borrow the money. In 
this service of collecting funds, provisions, or cloth- 
ing and distributing them, Nehemiah de Forest and 
other prominent men of Stratford Township were 
very active. 

Stratford did not actually suffer from incursions of 
the enemy, the attacks on Danbury and New Haven 
and the burning of Fairfield — when Samuel the 
Fifer was present — being the nearest instances of 
real warfare. There were a number of British plun- 
dering raids, however, of one kind and another, as, 
for instance, the arrival of a party of British soldiers 
from Lloyd's Neck, Long Island, who robbed a 
lonely house near Stratford of everything that they 
could carry away, including all the stores for the 
winter and even the bedclothes which had covered 
the sleeping family when the marauders arrived. 
The daughter of the house, little Phoebe Lewis, had 
just finished her first stint of spinning, and her large 
hank of wool yam had been dyed a beautiful blue 
and was ready for weaving. This hank, tossed by a 
soldier on the heap of plunder, rolled down till it 

[ 254 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

came just within reach of little Phoebe, lying cover- 
less on her trundle bed. As the soldier tumed his 
back for an instant, the child reached out and drew 
her beloved yam into the bed and lay on it, and that 
yam, as the story sajrs, was the only thing that was 
saved from the foragers. After the soldiers had 
stripped the house, they left in their boats, as they 
had come, and tradition tells us, alas, that they were 
guided in their raid by a Tory de Forest I 

This is a good illustration of the way Stratford 
families were often divided as to allegiance, brothers 
sometimes belonging to opposite parties. In fact, 
there was an example of this very kind in the de 
Forest family. In the early war times, the time of the 
French and Indian War, two sons of David of Wil- 
ton, Elihu and Ephraim, gave excellent service for 
two years in Canada. When, however, the Revo- 
lutionary War began, the brothers were divided. 
Elihu gave his share of service in the Continental 
Army but Ephraim chose the other side. He had 
married a wife in Redding and had gone there to live, 
and being away from the influence of the rest of the 
family, he remained "loyal to the crown/' He be- 
came an ardent member of a Loyalist Association 
and his property was finally confiscated by regular 
court proceedings because of his Toryism. 

Such raids as the one spoken of above were not the 
only trials from which Stratford suffered. Situated 
so conveniently near the Sound, it was almost im- 



The de Forests in War Time 



possible to prevent a considerable amount of trading 
with the enemy. Whigs as well as Tories were in- 
volved in this nefarious business, and it was so 
profitable that finally almost everyone who owned a 
boat, especially a fast one, was engaged in it. In 
1782 the trade had become so outrageous that thirty 
inspectors were appointed, Nehemiah of New Strat- 
ford among others, "to assist in putting a stop to the 
illicit and unlawful trade with the enemy." 

It is, however, a fact that Washington employed 
several Stratford boatmen as spies and that through 
their trading expeditions to New York they gained 
for him much valuable information. These men 
after the war showed their commissions from the 
government and received pensions. We have al- 
ready heard that Gideon at the very end of the war 
enlisted in "whale-boat service" under Captain 
John Barlow. It is not improbable that this may 
have been such service as has just been alluded to 
and that Captain Barlow may have been so em- 
ployed by Washington. 

The patriots of Connecticut had their patience 
sorely tried by the local Tories, and many of the 
latter were made to suffer in one way or another for 
their convictions. At one time Stratford passed an 
act reading, "No inimical person now with the 
enemy shall return and reside in the town," and 
after that all Tory non-combatants learned to pay 
their fines when necessary and hold their tongues. 

[ 256] 



The de Forests in War Time 

One Tory who had acted as host for the British 
General, Tryon, leader of the raid upon Danbury, 
was visited by a party of young Whigs, who "car- 
ried him a short distance, to a stream of water, and 
gave him what they called a thorough 'ducking/ 
They used him the greater part of the night, and 
in that time inunersed him as frequently as they 
deemed profitable. He was ever afterwards a worthy 
citizen/* ^ 

On the other hand, the Rev. David Ely of Ripton 
was told by one of these British loyalists that "when 
the rebellion was put down, the Doctor should be 
hung on an oak tree, standing on the public square, 
near the meeting house in which he preached.'' * 
What a use for the old oak tree under the shade of 
which Samuel and Abigail and their children had 
been wont to take their Sunday "nooning*'! 

The names of other Connecticut de Forests than 
those already given are to be found in the Revo- 
lutionary records.' There fought in the war an 
Anthony de Forest, who must have been a son Jtuhovy 
of Anthony and Martha de Forest of Stamford 



* Hininan,R.R. Warof the American Revolution, p. 140. 

* Orcutt, Rev. SamueL History of Stratford and Bridge- 
port, p. 998. 

* See also Appendix, pp. 317 ff. where all the available rec- 
ords of the military service of the descendants of David de 
Forest of Stratford are gathered together. 



[ ^57 ] 



The de Forests in War Time 

and the brother of Reuben and Ebenezer, already 

Giorgt mentioned, and a George de Forest, the son of 

John de Forest and Huldah Nichols of Danbuiy. 

John His brothers, John, William, and Archibald, are 

Arch^dd said to have served seven years each. 

The twenty-five of whom sketches more or less 
slight have been included here were probably all 
grandsons or great-grandsons of David de Forest 
of Stratford. Their story forms an honorable record 
for the Huguenot family which had ever been ready 
to do battle for religious or political freedom. 



<k^ 



'^rU/UL, 




VIII 

NEHEMIAH DE FOREST 

The Innkeeper 

NEHEMIAH, as we have seen, was bom on Moon Em 
Moose Hill January 24, 1743, and there he 
passed his childhood in his father's house. 
His Uncle Henry lived near-by on the same hill, and 
his Uncle Benjamin a little way below in Ripton. 
Each of them had large families, in all eleven chil- 
dren, some of them about the same ages as Nehe- 
miah's brothers and sisters. We can imagine what a 
good time this troop of young de Forests had to- 
gether. One of Benjamin's sons was named Nehe- 
miah ; and as he was only five years younger than our 
young friend Nehemiah and lived for some time in 
the same parish, great must have been the confusion. 
A family tradition says that all these cousins loved 
to congregate in Uncle Henry's house. 

This is all that we know about Nehemiah until 
April 10, 1767. On that date, when he was twenty- 
four years old, his father gave him as "part of his 
portion" fifteen acres of land. This belonged to 
Samuel's own farm and adjoined land which he 
had already given to his eldest son, Joseph — very 
likely on the occasion of the latter's marriage 
in 1757. 

[ 259 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Moose Eiu Whcn the land was given to Nehemiah, he prob- 
ably tried farming on his own account, but by the 
time two years had passed, there were other reasons 
why he needed a farm of his own. He had found his 
sweet Mary and he wanted to marry. 

Mary Lockwood (bom August 31, 1745) was the 
daughter of Deacon Peter Lockwood of Norwalk, 
Connecticut — an eminent man in the colony and 
many times a representative from Norwalk to the 
General .^ssembly. He was a descendant of that 
Robert Lockwood whose name first appears in 1635 
in the annals of Watertown, Connecticut, and who 
ten years later established himself in Fairfield 
County and became the progenitor of a numerous 
and highly respected line of descendants, who set- 
tled largely in that county. 

Mary's mother was Abigail, daughter of the Rev. 
Thomas Hawley of Ridgefield, Connecticut, but she 
died before Mary was four years old. The child, 
however, was not long without a mother, for her 
father, six months later, married again, as was usual 
in those days; and when the time came that Mary in 
turn wished to marry, it was Hannah Fitch, the 
third of Peter Lockwood's "desirable wives,'* who 
was at the head of his home. 

Peter and his wife were members of Wilton Parish, 
Norwalk, the parish which was so largely peopled by 
the descendants of David de Forest of Wilton, and 
it was probably on some occasion when Nehemiah 

[ 260 ] 



The Innkeeper 



went there to visit his cousins that he met his Moon urn 
Mary. 

On December 20, 1769, therefore, the young min- 
ister, the Rev. Isaac Lewis of Wilton Parish, was 
called upon, and Nehemiah de Forest and Mary 
Lockwood were married. The household on Moose 
Hill to which Nehemiah brought his bride was a 
small one, as has already been explained. We have 
heard, too, in the chapter describing the division of 
Samuel's homestead on Moose Hill that in addition 
to the fifteen acres just mentioned Samuel had in 
April, 1769, given Nehemiah yet other fifteen acres 
of land and half of his own dwelling-house and bam ; 
these also were to be considered part of Nehemiah's 
portion. This Samuel did in order to enable his son 
to bring his bride to a home of her own. Here the 
young people lived very happily with Samuel and 
Abigail for the next few years. 

At about the time of Nehemiah's marriage, the 
buming question on Moose Hill was that of erecting 
a fine new meeting-house in New Stratford. Of 
course the history of the meeting-house and of the 
coming of the Rev. Elisha Rexford belongs chrono- 
logically at the end of the chapter which tells of 
Samuel. But these events were so much more closely 
connected with Nehemiah's family life in New 
Stratford that it has seemed more natural to tell of 
them in the present chapter, even if it should involve 
a certain amount of recapitulation. 

[261 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Moose Hiu Before 1770 Samuel and Abigail, with their sons 
Joseph and Nehemiah and the grandchildren, had, as 
we know, climbed the hill every Sabbath and at- 
tended service in the "bam like buUding" in New 
Stratford. The new parish was established in 1762, 
and the first meeting of the Society took place on 
June 21 St, when it was voted that "the old house 
erected for winter preaching shall be ye place to at- 
tend publick worship till a more convenient place be 
provided." The records show that the actual found- 
ing of the Congregational church did not take place 
until 1764 and that twenty-six days afterward the 
Rev. Elisha Rexford was installed as minister. He 
was a graduate of Yale and was forty-three years of 
age when he c ame to New Stratford. While there he 
kept "a select school for both sexes'' and was much 
beloved and respected by his people, whom he 
served for forty-four years, until the time of his 
death in 1808.^ 

In anticipation of Mr. Rexford's coming the con- 
gregation had made great efforts to "erect a new 
meeting house," but apparently nothing was accom- 
plished, probably because the small congregation 
could not raise money enough. To salve their con- 
sciences, they did what they could and provided a 
"Gushing for ye Pulpit." Thus their new pastor 
would at any rate sit at ease, unless, indeed, the 



^ Portraits of Mr. Rexford and his wife still hang in the 
little Congregational parsonage in Monroe. 

[ 262 ] 



The Innkeeper 



^'cushing'' was simply one on which the Bible was Moosi nm 
tobelaidl^ 

There must have been a very grand ordination; 
that is, as grand as the simple settlers could make 
it. Let us hope that the feast which always accom- 
panied such a ceremony was convivial, but there 
was surely no necessity for the congr^ation's being 
so addicted to drinking as was the one at Beverly, 
Massachusetts, at an ordination feast of about this 
period. The following items were then chaiged on 
the innkeeper's bill: — 

£• sIl d« 
30 Bowles of Punch before the People went 
to meeting 3 

80 people eating in the morning at 16 d 6 
10 bottles of wine before they went to 



meetmg 


I 


ID 


68 dinners at 3s. 


10 


4 


44 bowles of punch while at dinner 


4 


8 


18 bottles of wine 


2 


14 


8 bowles of Brandy 


I 


2 


Cherry Rum 


I 


10 


6 people drank tea 







Although the Congregational church had been 
founded in 1764 and although it was definitely de- 
cided during the winter of 1768 that a meeting- 

^ In other parishes there were like disappointments. The 
church members in the adjacent parish of Trumbull, after 
collecting money for a silver ^^Christening Bason," found 
themselves obliged to vote that part of the money be used 
to cover the pulpit cushion and that they be satisfied with a 
"blocktin Bason." 

[ 263 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Moose Hiu house should be constructed, the Society had been 
very slow about beginning the work and it was not 
until June 21-22, 1769, that the frame was raised. 
It was built upon land which is now called the 
Green, and the directions given for its construction 
were almost as elaborate as those for the erection of 
Solomon's Temple. There was to be a stone founda- 
tion; the roof was to be covered "on both sides with 
three foot seder shingles,*' the sides with oak clap- 
boards ; the window frames were to be of chestnut. 
Later, the window timbers were cased and still later 
it was voted to add a steeple and a bell. To pay for 
all this the inhabitants voted to "tax themselves 
four pence on the capital list given in ye year 1767, 
for ye purpose of Citing lumber." 

In 1769 the meeting-house was finished, and it was 
in April, 1770, four months after Nehemiah's mar- 
riage, that Samuel and his sons made the final and 
successful appeal to be " set off from Ripton to New 
Stratford parish." Nehemiah and Mary undoubt- 
edly became members of the society in 1770, but 
owing to the incomplete state of the church rec- 
ords, we do not find their names on the list until 

1774- 
Mr. Rexford kept his church notes carefully and 

accurately, but after his death in 1808, his wife and 

daughter removed to Stratford, taking with them 

all the church notes as well as his manuscripts. Then, 

alas, after keeping them until 1825, or later, Miss 

[ 264 ] 



The Innkeeper 



Rcxford used them for waste paper! The chronicles Moose nm 
of the church of New Stratford are, therefore, very 
incomplete. The books which contain the minutes 
of the society meetings from 1762 to 1812 are in exis- 
tence, and so are a few loose leaves containing vari- 
ous items, but the early church records, those which 
contained all entries of baptisms, marriages, deaths, 
admissions to membership, dismissals, and church 
business have been destroyed I 

The Land Records, however, have not been lost, 
and from them we know that Nehemiah followed his 
father's example and began early to invest in land, 
the first recorded purchase being in March, 1775, 
when he bought three acres and seven rods of land at 
a spot called " Brushy Ring,'' just south of the New 
Stratford meeting-house. This was on the very top 
of the hill — the place where "New Stratford 
Centre" was to be located a little later. 

A year afterward he bought from his brother-in New Stratford 
law, Elisha Mills, the adjoining land, seven acres, 
with a dwelling-house on it. An important purchase 
this, for the dwelling-house was to be the home of 
Nehemiah and Mary for the next twenty-two years, 
and in it Nehemiah started in 1776 on a new career 
— that of innkeeper. 

Nehemiah was not the first of his family to go to 
New Stratford. Samuel Lewis (son of Benjamin 
Lewis, Jr., and Sarah de Forest, and therefore 
Nehemiah's first cousin) had moved with his family 

[265 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford to the top of the hill in 1755 and had located his 

house on a plot which afterward became the north* 
west comer of the Green. He may have suggested 
to Nehemiah that there was need for a tavern in 
New Stratford and may even have told him that 
an appropriate house was available. 

The house was well adapted to its purpose. Iih 
deed, it is possible that it had been built for an iim. 
The outside was covered with shingles, and the 
slanting gambrel roof spread out in front over what 
we should call the piazza but what was then called 
the "front shed," which ran the entire length of the 
house.^ Like Hepzibah's, it was a plank house, the 
two-inch planks being set on end and the cracks be- 
tween filled in with mortar. It was two stories hig|h 
and had plenty of upstairs rooms, on the inside of 
which the beams showed. Only one bedroom was 
plastered, and tradition still tells of the bitter cold- 
ness of those rooms in winter. 

A hall ran through the middle of the house; on 
either side were large rooms, and back of these were 
the dining-room and kitchen. The northeast room 
was the parlor, then called the "front room." One 
entire side of this room was paneled from floor to 
ceiling, and in the middle of the paneling was the 
great fireplace, surrounded by beautiful blue-and- 

^ In the accompanying picture the house is to be seen 
(very small in scale) on the left of the Green and overtopped 
by a tall poplar tree. 



[ 266 ] 



SOUTH VIEW OF THE CENTRAL PART OF MONROE 
Fioro Baibct'i "Hbioricil CsUecciiHu of Connccdcul," ilj6 



f 



The Innkeeper 



in^hite tiles, undoubtedly brought from Holland, and Nm Stratford 

showing scriptural subjects. In the woodwork on 

either side of the fireplace was a narrow china 

cupboard with a panelled door and a rounded top, 

and in the north comer of the room was a door- 

way leading down by several steps to Mar/s 

garden. 

The large room on the left of the front door, with 
its sanded floor and big fireplace, was the tap-room. 
Here the men of the village met to discuss the news 
and drink their mugs of beer, to ^oioke their pipes, 
and play backgammon, for there was a craze for this 
game in the early New England tavern days. It 
must not be imagined, though, that many other 
games were tolerated. " Dice, Cards, Tables, Quoits, 
Loggcts, Bowls, Ninepins, and Billiards" were all 
''unlawful games," and the landlord was forbidden 
to allow them in his house, yard, or garden. 

There were many other rales to govem the old 
time publican. He was not permitted to have any 
persons in his house except the members of his fam- 
ily from Saturday at dusk until after " Sabbath Day 
and the evening after the Sabbath," or after nine 
o'clock on any other night, nor was he to allow ''in- 
habitants to sit drinking in his house above the 
space of one hour at a time." He was also forbidden 
to "willingly Harbor . . . any Rogues, Vagabonds, 
Thieves, nor any other notorious offenders," though 
why any decent tavern-keeper should wish to do so, 

[ 267] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford is not quite Understandable. Such rules as these the 

landlord was obliged to obey "whether or no," to use 
an old New England idiom. 

After the purchase of the dwelling-house, Nehe- 
miah immediately bought from his neighbor, Nathan 
Wheeler, of whom we shall hear more soon, "bricks, 
ribs [that is, studs], and shingles," and began to 
build an addition at the northem end. This new 
wing was to be used as a store and was the first one 
in New Stratford, as previous to this time all trade 
had gpne to Ripton. 

The village green was a good place on which to 
locate a store, for it was the culminating point of a 
number of highways. A road from New Haven 
crossed the hilltop, as did the road from Norwalk, 
and the highway of cross-country travel between 
Stratford and Newtown also intersected the plot. 
These roads cut the Green at various angles, and the 
meeting-house and inn made further inroads upon its 
area ; but before long the meeting-house was moved 
to the north, the inn to the west, and the roads were 
so straightened as to leave a square green, which was 
for many years enclosed. 

There was every reason why a store connected 
with an inn or tavem should do a good business. 
Since the inn was also the mail station, where all the 
neighbors naturally collected when a mail arrived, 
it was in those days the busiest spot in the village. 
In the old almanacs distances were not given from 

[ 268 ] 



-1 



The Innkeeper 



town to town but from tavern to tavern, and the Nm Stratford 
"Post-rider" with the mail in his saddle-bags al- 
ways stayed at these and distributed local news as 
well as letters. Post-riders could evidently choose 
the places at which they stopped and the time; for 
old Mr. Carpenter, the New Stratford letter-carrier, 
used to say that he stopped for dinner wherever he 
smelled doughnuts frying. 

The year 1776 found Landlord de Forest estab- 
lished in his unaccustomed position as innkeeper in 
a new and progressive village, and an innkeeper in 
those days was a man of no mean importance. He 
had to be "recommended by the Selectmen and 
civil authorities, constables and grand jurors of the 
town " in which he resided. No man held himself too 
high for the position and indeed no one in the place 
was much more important, the tavem-keeper being • 
often appointed a representative to the General 
Assembly. All notices of new laws, town meetings, 
auctions, etc., were posted in the inn; and as news 
came chiefly through word of mouth and not through 
print, who could be so well informed of all that 
occurred in the colony as the landkrd, whose busi- 
ness it was to meet and to know everyone ? 

Of the inns themselves one traveller wrote: "You 
meet with neatness, dignity and decency, the cham- 
bers neat, the beds good, the sheets clean, supper 
passable, cyder tea punch and all for fourteen pence 
a head." Lafayette told his wife that "Host and 

[269] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford hostess sit at the table with you and do the honors 

of a comfortable meal." 

Nehemiah was eneigetic and capable, and before 
the first year was over he was actively interested in 
all public affairs. He was made a member of the 
school committee, on which he served for manyyears, 
performing the arduous duty of collecting the school 
monies and distributing them to the schools in the 
proper proportion. 

His relations were much the same with the eccle- 
siastical society committee, on which we frequently 
find his name, as well as that of his brother-in-law, 
Milton Hawley. He was often appointed "Moder- 
ator" of the committee meetings; these were ordi- 
narily held at the meeting-house, but when the 
weather was severe, the members used to adjoum to 
' his house, where they could be warm and comfort- 
able. Particularly was Nehemiah called upon when 
money was to be raised. Whether it was for the 
"minister's rates" or for the "purchase of a bell by 
signment " (subscription) or for the expenses of the 
parish representative at the General Assembly or 
for a subscription to aid in rebuilding "Old Strat- 
ford Meeting House" (which was destroyed by 
lightning in 1785), it was always Nehemiah de 
Forest who was made collector. 

He was appointed register of the Society, sur- 
veyor of highways, fence viewer, " Kee Keeper of the 
Pound," and also held many other offices. A propos 

[ 270 ] 



The Innkeeper 



of the office of key keeper of the pound, it is rather Nm Stratford 
amusing to note the expenses incurred when a cer- 
tain colt was impounded and, no owner appearing, 
was sold by the village constable at the New Strat- 
ford sign post. The bill of damages came to eighteen 
shillings, the selling cost twelve shillings, the fence 
viewer received three shillings, and the key keeper 
eight shillings eight pence — £2. i. 8 in all. 

Thus Nehemiah, like his father and grandfather 
before him, became a highly respected member of the 
community. His domestic life, too, reflected the 
peaceful dignity which was so characteristic of the 
early New Englander's home. That he was fortunate 
in his gentle wife, Mary Lockwood, is proved by all 
we know of her, particularly by two lovely letters 
written to her by her father and by Mary's comment 
upon one of them. Shortly before Mary removed to 
the hilltop she had the great grief of losing her father, 
but his letters survive to speak of the tender love 
between these two and to hint at the playfulness and 
gentle humor, which, mistakenly perhaps, we are 
not apt to associate with the New England settlers. 
The letters were written by Deacon Peter soon after 
his daughter's marriage. 



[ 271 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



PeUr Lockwoody Nortvalky Conn.j to Mr. Nehemiah 

Deforest^ at Ripton. 

June I4th9 1770. 

New Stratford LoVING CHILDREN, 

I receved my Daughter's of ye 8th Inst, which 
Breatheth so much Love and Duty as made me Weep 
and Lafe. I wept to think I came so much short of 
what was my Duty as a father and a Chrisdan. My 
tender affection wont let me think your speech flat- 
terey. Ye Contentment and Satisfaction you shew 
makes me more than an Amends. 

I Rejoyce to hear you Ask my Prayers that you may 
have Infinitely Better and More Durable Riches In 
and through Christ. Then God will be your father In 
a good sence, which that I should Neglect to pray for, 
God forBid. ... It is ye Christian that Injoys a hap- 
piness that a Strainger Intermeddels not with. It 
Rejoyces My hart that you are in a Religious family 
and meat with so much kindness. 

Tho you are settled at a Distance I Rejoyce in 
hopes of seeing you offen and Reseveing your kind 
Letters and of wrighting to you. I Spent Sum of my 
Solatory Ours ye Night before I Reseved yours in 
wrighting to you But on Reseveing of yours, that 
scrawl you wont see. Do not think it a trouble nor 
shall noty I hope, while my trembling hand and pen 
can Do it. I Cant but Rejoyce in My Afliction when 
I see ye Affection you Express . . . and that you All, 
who are ye Children of my two Desirerable wives have 
so Much kindness for Each other. . . . 

O I had Like to forgot to tell you what it was that 
Made Me Lafe it was that you had not forgot that 

[ 272 ] 



The Innkeeper 



Clams was my favourite Dish. But I Beleve you will Nm Stratford 
be as weary of Reading as I am of writeing so End with 
these Lines, send you tenderest Love and Regards 
to Each of you and your parents and all friends, these 
from your Very Affectionate father — Peter Lock- 
wood. 

July i6 . . . We Expected you hear Last week and 
Hannah Came Down and her Children to see you and 
you Doe not know how much she was dissapointed. 
But I will tell you more, with the Leave of Providence 
I Desine to Come and see you Saterday after next. 

Peter Lochtvoody Nortoalk^ to Mrs. Mary Deforest^ 

W. Stratford. 

July ye i, 1771. 
Loving Daughter, 

I Received yours of June 26, of what year you Doe 
not tell me. You will take it kindly of A father to put 
you In mind of it for your Amendment to others, not 
to Discorridge you from writing to me for you Doe not 
know how I was pleased Last Night when Alone to 
reade your Letter and Alone I am as Like to be as 
when you was hear. 

Sarah Raymond is Sarah still, seemed A Mind to 
Come and as Glad to go away in a week and set off 
and is gone to Sufiield. I have now got Elizabeth 
Crofut and I hope She will do well. 

I Rejoyce to heare you are all well, if your Spouse 
hath ben Unwell and is well again be ye thankfull, as 
to your Swellen on your Neck I am harttily greaved 
for you and k[n]ow not what to Say, to goe to Cuting 
there I should be as you say afraid. I Must Commit 

[ 273 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Niw Stratford you and all I have and am in to ye hands of ye God of 

My Life. My Dear Child, some Other Deseses may 
take you away and not that, Pray secure an Interest 
In Christ and a title in that world where Sin and Every 
Desese will be k[n]own no more. 

As for Eyeing ye [slave] woman, you will Do as 
your Spouse and funds think Best. If I had one so 
good as you call her I should call [her] worth more than 
fourty Pounds. 

I am glad you have Sold your horse so well if you 
have not jocked ye Man. If Mr. Deforests trading 
tumeth all out so you may get Rich I hope you will 
remember ye Advice of ye wise man if Riches In- 
crese Set not your Hart on them, ye World is a Vain 
thing. Money we see A goeing. 

Dolly Says she cannot write now I hope She will 
Soon, I would have you all write to one another as 
Offen as you can ... So remain your Loving tho Very 
Unworthy father 

Peter Lockwood. 

P.S. It is ye Best and. all ye Paper I have, I have 
no Shop to step in to Get Better. If I had I would. 
I would have Mr. Deforest know I do not Like it Very 
Well his not Calling going nor Comming when he went 
to York. 

' Mary, coming across this letter years later, sent it 
to her husband, with the following inscription in her 
handwriting on the back of it. 

Asking pardon with Submission Let me intret you 
to read this. I come across it, I read it with pleashur 
and with pain; it brought his conversation, his person, 

[ 274 ] 



The Innkeeper 



gentel way of reproof, so fresh it seemd as if he was New Stratford 

spekeing to me fase to fase, & may we both remember 

the tender consam our parents had for us, for our Soles, 

[may] the many prayers and caushuns they have given 

us li with wait [weight] on our minds, and let us now 

in obedience to gods commands, in gratatude to our 

parents now they are dead and gone, and the Love we 

ought to have for our one Soles, quickken us to make 

our Coling and election sure. 

Dear friend ackcept this from my hand. If you cant 
have it from my mouth. I desiar to bless god he gives 
me a hart to pray for you and my children and would 
beg the same from you and let us be helpmets to ech 
other. I am a poor exsampel, dont think my Self per- 
fect, I [as]sure you my heart is much affected. 

Only a year after the death of Mary's father, Ne- 
hemiah lost his mother, Abigail, in Whose house he 
and Mary had just ended the first seven happy years 
of their married life, and as if this were not loss 
enough, but six months later Samuel also died. 
This was truly a period of sorrow for Nehemiah ; for 
his brother Joseph, whose house on Moose Hill had 
been next to Samuel's, died at about the same time 
as did their father, and their uncle, Henry de Forest, 
also passed away. 

Neither Samuel nor Abigail was buried by their 
old pastor, who had baptized so many of their chil- 
dren and who had been their faithful friend since 
their venturesome move in 1734 into the backwoods. 
The Rev. Jedediah Mills had gone to his rest in 1776, 

[ ^75 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford a fcw months bcforc Abigail. He was then nearly 

eighty years old. 

Nehemiah did not receive much additional wealth 
through the will of either his father or his mother, 
as he had already received his portion ; and Mary's 
share of her father's estate was only one tenth of it 
and could not, therefore, have amounted to any 
very large sum. Perhaps Nehemiah tumed all the 
more readily to innkeeping after he knew that his 
fortunes as farmer and landowner would not be 
likely to improve materially. 

Before he moved his family in 1776 to New Strat- 
ford, three children had been bom to Mary — 
Abby, 1771 ; William, 1773 ; and Lockwood, 1775. 
To the youngest Mary gave her family name, as 
he was bom •at about the time of her father's 
death. 

We can imagine Mary during her spare time on 
the Sabbath Day, if, indeed, there were any spare 
time, sitting with her children in her "front room" 
before the big fireplace and telling them stories 
suggested by those wonderful Dutch tiles. There 
were no picture books for children then, only the 
big illustrated Bibles and possibly Fox's Book of 
Martyrs, so that the tiles were a never-ending source 
of delight and inspiration, and the children leamed 
to know all about Adam and Eve and their adven- 
tures with the serpent, about Moses in his perilous 
voyage among the bulrushes, about little Samuel, 

[ 276] 



The Innkee 



per 



and the Christ child in the manger. Sweet mother New Stratford 
Mary with her flock about her; for a new little one 
was added every other year until Mary had seven 
lambs in that peaceful fold. 

Of all the public interests of Nehemiah de Forest's 
active life, the most important must unquestion- 
ably have been the Revolutionary War. By the 
time the inn at New Stratford had opened its doors, 
with Nehemiah in the character of host, the early 
period of political uncertainty had passed and the 
colonies were committed to the necessity of fighting 
for their lives. Many had already adopted State 
Constitutions, although Connecticut was not yet 
of the number. The terrible winter of 1777 tested 
to the utmost the endurance of the emerging nation, 
and every effort was made to win recruits and to 
provide for the army already in the field. 

Nehemiah did not enlist ; he was needed to man- 
age the inn, and besides that, he undoubtedly felt 
that he could be more useful in the military affairs 
of Stratford Township and New Stratford Parish 
if he remained at home, but he was an active and 
zealous patriot during the whole war. The same 
can be said of his brother David, who lived in Derby 
down on the Housatonic; also of Elisha Mills of 
Ripton, and of Nehemiah's neighbor, Nathan 
Wheeler of New Stratford. We find Nehemiah's 
name among those on the first "Committee of In- 

[ ^77 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford spcction"^ appointed in 1776, part of whose duty 

it was to keep "watch and ward" in the town. 

We have already seen how important wis Con- 
necticut's function as the "Provision State" and 
how freely she taxed herself to care for the needy 
soldiers. In 1777 Nehemiah was one of those ap- 
pointed "to provide immediately all those neces- 
saries for the said soldiers, as the law directs," and 
the same year was on a committee of six "to receive 
all such necessary provisions which the people are 
disposed to bring for the support of ye soldiers 
families as wheat and all other articles according 
to ye late law for regulating prices," the same com- 
mittee being expected to " issue forth distribute and 
provide for soldiers families according to law in such 
case made and provided." The duties of this com- 
mittee in 1778 were " in behalf of this town to pur- 
chase and procure clothing etc. for ye Continental 
troops," and it was probably at this time that they 
sent " 100 shirts, 100 pair of mittens, 100 pair of 
stockings & 100 pair of shoes for our soldiers be- 
longing to this town who are now in the service in the 
Connecticut lines." 

In 1 78 1 he and five others were to "agree with 
and hire such able-bodied recruits as are still wanted 
to fill up the town quota on the best terms they are 
able and voted that a tax of three pence on the 

^ This information with much that follows was found in 
Rev. Samuel Orcutt's History of Stratford and Bridgeport. 



[278] 



ENGRAVING OF THE DUC DE LAUZUN 
From Lgning'i " Pictorul FieU Book," toI. ii, f. 308 



The Innkeeper 



pound be levied on the list of 1781 in hard money to Nno Stratford 
pay the hire and expenses of raising said recruits/' 
It was at this time that Nehemiah presumably 
*' hired" his fifteeur-year-old nephew Gideon, who 
then entered Brigadier-General Waterbury's Bat- 
talion. Still another conunittee of the same char- 
acter to which he belonged had the same duties in 
1782, when it was evidently even harder to raise 
recruits and also to collect the tax wherewith to pay 
them. 

During the summer of 1780 the colonists had been 
cheered by the arrival in Newport of the French 
fleet under the conunand of the Comte de Rocham- 
beauy whose coming was the result of the alliance 
with France made earlier in the war. The following 
summer Rochambeau was summoned to join Wash- 
ington on the Hudson, and with the main body of 
the French army he passed through Hartford and 
Newtown on his way to obey the summons. The 
Due de Lauzun, one of the French officers and a very 
charming young fellow, with his Legion of Hussars, 
six hundred strong, formed a sort of guard to the 
main army and marched across Connecticut on a 
line about fifteen miles back from the Sound. He 
spent one night at New Haven, one at Derby, 
and then, after crossing the Housatonic, began to 
climb the hill toward New Stratford. 

The way was long and steep, although the troops 
took the road around the base of Bam Hill in order 

[ 279 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Niw Stratford to avoid a Still steq>er climb ; but they finally en- 
tered New Stratford from the north, and there, 
across the Green, stood Nehemiah's inn waiting to 
receive as many as could be crowded under its hos- 
pitable roof. 

We may be sure that every man, woman, and 
child was watching for the arrival of the soldiers, 
and when they emerged on the Green, was thrilled 
by the sight they presented. The hussars wore such 
brilliant uniforms — green and scarlet, it is said — 
and such impressive military caps, "Shakos" they 
were called, really wonderful, with standing cock- 
ades of black horsehair and hanging bands of gpld 
galloon! Then there were clanking sabres! What 
a contrast to the appearance of the Connecticut 
militia, who often had no uniforms whatever or, 
at best, only a cocked hat ! 

The French officers were made comfortable in 
the inn, where De Lauzun must have been surprised 
as well as pleased to find a landlord of French de- 
scent to greet him, one who had, as was said of Ne- 
hemiah, " a natural ease and gentility of address and 
politeness of manner — matters which all French- 
men if not all Americans regard.'* The soldiers en- 
camped on a meadow a little to the southeast of 
the village green. There was not fodder enough in 
the place to feed all the horses and the "five-cattle 
teams" that had dragged the heavy supply wagons 
over the terrible corduroy roads — eight hundred 

[ 280 ] 



FRENCH HUSSAR, I 772 



The Innkeeper 



and ten such wagpns, we are told, most of them New Stratford 
drawn by two yoke of oxen and a horse. Everyone 
wished to help all he could, and so a meadow near-by 
was hastily mowed by moonlight to supply the de- 
ficiency. 

That evening there was great merriment in New 
Stratford, for a dance on the Green was organized. 
De Lauzun's military band fumished the music — 
and such music ! In these bands there were usually 
''a flute, six clarinets, three bassoons, two homs, 
one trumpet and one serpent besides a number of 
side-drums/' As the Continentals had only fifes 
and drums, no wonder that the music of the hussars 
caused great excitement wherever they went. 
Rochambeau himself wrote about it as follows: 
**Ce qui vous etonnera, c'est de retrouver toujours 
la gaite fran^aise dans ces marches penibles. Les 
Americains, que la curiosite amene par milliers 
dans nos camps, y sont re^us avec alegresse ; on fait 
jouer pour eux nos instruments militaires qu'ils 
aiment avec passion! Alors, Officiers, Soldats, 
Americains, Americaines, tons se melent et dansent 
ensemble; c'est la fete de Tegalite." 

Everyone danced that night, the young girls of 
New Stratford becoming partners for the gay 
French officers. What a charming sight it must have 
been ! The girls were so pretty, their eyes so bright 
and eager, the uniforms of the officers so bewilder- 
ingly beautiful, and the moon shed a poetic light over 

[ a8i ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford all the scene. The evening was all too short, but the 

Duke could not stay more than one night in a place, 
and his legion had to move on early in the mommg. 
On that eventful night, June 30, 1781, a son was 
bom to Nehemiah, and the next morning before 
the Duke left, the child was shown to him and he 
was asked to name it. He promptly responded by 
giving this new mite of humanity his own name. 
One wonders if he ever again thought of his name- 
sake. Perhaps not, for he had a rather light and 
flippant nature. We may hope, however, that his 
memories of New Stratford with its pretty Green 
were not like those he had of Lebanon in the same 
state, where he and his legion had spent the previ- 
ous winter. He had made an apparently pleasant 
stay in that place and yet in his journal he wrote: 
^'La Siberie seule pent etre comparee a Lebanon, 
qui n'est compose que de quelques cabanes de- 
spersees dans d'immense forets." ^ In any event, 
De Lauzun de Forest loved in after days to tell his 
children of the romantic manner in which he had 
received his name. 



* In October, 1781, only a few days before the defeat of 
Comwallis, the Due de Lauzun and his legion fell in with 
Tarleton and his troops. This resulted in a complete rout for 
Tarleton with a loss of over five hundred killed, wounded, or 
taken prisoner. As a reward for De Lauzun's bravery and 
brilliant exploit, he was chosen to carry the news of Com- 
wallis' surrender to France. Only twelve years later the 
unfortunate De Lauzun su£Fered on the guillotine in his 
native country. 

[ 282 ] 



CORNWALLIS SURRENDERS HIS ARMS TO WASHINGTON AFTER THE 

DEFEAT AT YORKTOWN IN VIRGINIA, OCTOBER, I781 

DE LAUZUN IN THE CENTRE 



The Innkeeper 



Another of the French officers on leaving New New Stratford 
Stratford gave Squire Lewis a slender rapier as a 
memento. This rapier^ with the name of the French 
maker on its blade^ hung on the wall in the Squire's 
house for three generations ; and only after the death 
of his granddaughter, Mrs. Nichols, was it taken 
away by her adopted daughter. 

Immediately after the dose of the Revolutionary 
War a local matter stirred the little village of New 
Stratford to its depths. This was the question of the 
"New Town/* which then began to be seriously 
discussed. At that time the parish of New Strat- 
ford was still in the township of Stratford and the 
county of Fairfield, but among the members of the 
parish were many energetic and progressive men who 
then began to agitate the subject of New Stratford's 
becoming a separate township. Ecclesiastical soci- 
eties were usually the forerunners of towns, though 
they often existed many years before they were able 
to secure township privileges; but these active 
citizens apparently appealed to Old Stratford, and 
that town responded in January, 1782, by voting 
that in its opinion the New Stratford Society should 
be made a "New Town." 

Active measures were immediately taken. Com- 
mittees were formed ; one to collect votes which the 
people's "agent" could take to the General As- 
sembly, another to collect money for the agent's 

[ 283 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford expenses, and still another to ascertain the distance 

which many of the inhabitants had to travel in 
gping to Stratford Town House. A very important 
committee proceeded forthwith to "fix a centre for 
the New Town/* This centre was finally laid out so 
as to include the very crest of the hill — the land 
on which the meeting-house stood. 

The meeting-house itself had therefore to be 
freshened up to do honor to the "New Town." The 
interior was finished, the walls whitewashed, and the 
woodwork both inside and outside painted. 

About this time the meeting-house in Old Strat- 
ford was destroyed by lightning and the inhabitants 
of New Stratford raised a subscription to help re- 
build it — possibly having in mind not only a desire 
to assist their neighbors but also the advisability of 
encouraging them to stand firm in the township 
matter. 

There was a great deal of rivalry between New 
Stratford and the neighboring parish of Ripton. 
In fact, Ripton was distinctly jealous of the pre- 
tensions of the younger parish! She had not yet 
been made a "New Town"; why should these 
**northem neighbors," this upstart society on the 
hill, have the privilege before she did ? She opposed 
it strenuously and for years there were bitterness 
and hard feeling between the two societies. This 
feeling continued until April 21, 1788, when 
a final effort at reconciliation was made by a 

[284] 



The Innkeeper 



committee of which Nehemiah de Forest was a New Stratford 
member. 

The result was that an agent was appointed from 
each place — Captain Deodate Silliman from New 
Stratford, and Elisha Mills, Esq., from Ripton — 
who after conference, for "the sake of peace and 
friendship," reconunended (as usual) that a memo- 
rial be sent to the General Assembly. The two 
agents apparently went to New Haven and the 
matter was in some way adjusted. At any rate, we 
hear nothing more on the subject. 

Great, however, must have been the mortifica- 
tion of New Stratford when Ripton, the very next 
year, 1789, was made a town ! It was then re-christ- 
ened, as was usually done when an ecclesiastical 
society became a town, being named "Huntington" 
after one of the signers of the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. The new township of Huntington now 
comprised the two parishes of Ripton and New 
Stratford and it extended to the most northerly 
limits of Stratford Township on the Halfway River, 

So New Stratford had to let her energetic insist- 
ence subside and to content herself with being 
simply an ecclesiastical society. She continued to 
be known by her original name for over thirty years 
longer, until 1823 indeed, when she also obtained 
town privileges and was called "Monroe" after 
James Monroe, then President of the United States. 

This change in the appellation of a parish when 

[285] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Ntw Stratford it become a town has always led to confusion ; it is 

hard to keep in mind that Ripton was an ecclesias- 
tical society for seventy-two years before 1789, 
when it became the town of Huntington, and that 
New Stratford was an ecclesiastical society for 
sixty-one years before 1823, when it became the 
town of Monroe. 

Nehemiah* s Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

Fooishatch We must interrupt our narrative of Nehemiah at 
this point in order to put before the reader the story 
of his neighbor, Nathan Wheeler. 

There was in Nehemiah's day a locality one mile 
west from New Stratford Green called "Fools- 
hatch," which is said to have acquired its name in 
the following fashion : Two New Stratford men lost 
their way one dark night and after wandering for a 
long time decided to wait for daylight rather than 
to risk gping farther afield. When moming broke, 
they found themselves close to their own homes and 
exclaimed, "Were ever two such fools hatched!" 
It is seldom that the name of a place can be so 
quaintly and so adequately explained. 

The house in which Nehemiah established him- 
self when he moved to New Stratford was not far 
from Fooishatch, and there he found already settled 
a man named Nathan Wheeler. Both Nehemiah 
and Nathan had families of young children and both 
attended services at the same meeting-house, so 

[ 286 ] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

that it was natural that the neighbors should be- FooUhauk 
come intimate friends. 

Moses Wheeler, who in the earliest days of the 
Stratford settlement had been the lessee of the 
ferry across the Housatonic, was the great-grand- 
father of Nathan Wheeler of Foolshatch. Nathan 
was bom October 19, 1747, in Ripton Parish, and he 
presumably moved to Foolshatch in 1773; for in 
April of that year it is recorded that his father, 
Deacon Moses, '^in consideration of ye love and 
good will" gave his son twelve acres of land there, 
also ''40 pounds of movable estate and other prop- 
erty/' 

Upon his arrival in New Stratford Parish Nathan 
immediately took a prominent and active part in its 
affairs ; in fact, it is from his '' Rate Bill for ye Meet- 
ing House 1774" that we get the earliest list of 
members of the new parish. He was collector for one 
of the two church districts, and among the thirty- 
nine names on his list we find his name and that of 
Nehemiah de Forest. 

The year that Nathan received the gift of land 
from his father (1773) was also the year when he 
took to himself as wife young Charity Beach. Of 
Charity's father nothing is known except that his 
name was Beach,* but of her mother many inter- 

^ Orcutt and other Beach genealogists are in error in say- 
ing that he married the Charity Beach who was a daughter 
of Israel Beach and Hannah Burritt. 

[287] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Fodshaich esting stories are still told. Her maiden name was 
Rhoda Beach, although she was not related to her 
first husband. She was presumably descended frc»n 
John Beach, the first of that name, who came to 
Stratford in i6s2, Rhoda's first marriage was of 
short duration, but after her husband's death she 
was not left wholly alone; for she had a child to 
comfort her heart, the only child she ever had, little 
Charity. 

We shall have occasion to speak again of Rhoda, 
but it may be as well to say now that she took as her 
second husband John Morse and was for a second 
time left a widow at some date prior to 1793. In 1804 
she was the wife of Peter Nichols and in 1806 we find 
her married to Jotham Sherman of Newtown. In 
after years she used to say that she married "once 
for love, once for money, and once for a home"; but 
that while the first marriage was the least happy, the 
fourth and last one was the happiest of all. After 
being thus four times left a widow, "Grandmother 
Sherman" lived to be a merry old lady eighty-nine 
years of age and died at Newtown in 1826. 

Charity's father must have been a man of means, 
for he left his daughter well provided for. Tradition 
tells us that no bride ever came into the Wheeler 
family with so handsome a "setting up." "She 
brought money to the family," it was said. Appar- 
ently she owned at the time of her marriage a farm 
of over thirty-three acres at Foolshatch, and it was 

[ 288 ] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

on the southwest comer of Charity's farm, facing on Fsoishack 
the highway, that her husband proceeded to build a 
dwelling-house and bam. 

Bride Charity brought with her to the farm a 
goodly "plenishing/' not only of household linen, 
of fleeced blankets, plain blankets, white blankets, 
plaid blankets, of bedquilts, woolen quilts, calico 
quilts, plaid coverlets, and such things, which of 
course disappeared long ago, but also of more sub- 
stantial possessions such as fumiture, which is still 
in existence. 

Her parlor was beautifully fumished, according to 
the standards of the time. It contained a solid cherry 
desk about four feet wide, with a hinged top, inside 
of which were many little drawers and cubby-holes, 
and with drawers below on which were melon-shaped 
handles. Then there was the round mahogany 
centre table, on which lay the "Great Bible," and on 
the wall a handsome mahogany-framed looking- 
glass with gilt moldings and omaments. Standing 
against the walls were eight Windsor chairs, which 
were very fashionable when Charity was young. 
Windsor chairs were first made in Philadelphia, and 
when the style reached New England, they were con- 
sidered to be much more elegant and comfortable 
than the slat or bannister or fiddle-back chairs that 
were in vogue there. In the fireplace were andirons 
with shovel and tongs, and on the mantel shelf 
stood Charity's brass candlesticks. 

[ 289] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Foolshauk But the glory of the whole room was the beautiful 
highboy I This was a particularly handsome one, 
with the two parts of the hooded top bending toward 
each other, while between them stood erect a slender 
carved flame. On the drawers were unusually beau- 
tiful handles and escutcheons. This highboy still has 
in one of its drawers the inscription, "Auguft 1734 
Brewfter Dayton made theefe drawf at Stratford," 
showing that it must have belonged to Charity's 
mother before it belonged to her. The same is very 
likely true regarding the mirror, for an old, old 
lady of the family used to say that this looking- 
glass dated back to a short time after the year 
1700. 

Of course. Charity had things which, though they 
were more homely, were just as necessary — her 
flax spinning wheel and the big wool wheel, as well 
as the brass warming-pan, and the tin foot-stove 
with which to keep her feet warm in church on cold 
Sundays. 

All these mementoes of Charity can still be seen on 
Monroe hilltop in the house of Nathan Wheeler's 
grandson. Evers^thing is tenderly cared for and is 
perfect still except the highboy, which, alas, has 
lost two of its beautiful handles. A stranger 
who was being hospitably entertained a few years 
ago wished to buy these handles, but being indig- 
nantly refused, stole two the next moming before 
leaving. 

[ 290 ] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

Three little girls were bom to Nathan and Char- FooUhauk 
ity: Sally-Betsey (December 23, 1773); Mehetabel 
(September 9, 1777) ; and Rhoda (October 5, 1780), 
who was named for her grandmother. Charity did 
not live long to care for her children; not long 
enough, in fact, for Mehetabel to have any recollec- 
tion of her mother. She died shortly after 1780 and 
was buried in the primitive graveyard laid out at 
New Stratford in 1766. Her interment was one of 
the last made there ; and though her grave and in- ^ 
deed the graveyard have since disappeared, a frag- ' 
ment of her headstone was for a long time to be seen 
in an adjacent stone wall. 

When Charity died, she left her farm to her trio of 
little daughters, making her husband " Proprietor'* 
for life of three lots which contained in all about four 
acres, on one of which lots he had built the family 
home. In 1784 Nathan brought to this home as 
his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew 
Hawley of Ripton. She never had children of her 
own but was a true mother to her stepdaughters, 
Mehetabel always declaring that no one ever had a 
more devoted stepmother or one that was more 
beloved. 

Like a good New England housewife, stepmother 
"Betty" kept the three little girls busy. Slavery 
was common in New England at that time and we 
know that in 1790, when the first census of the 
United States was taken, Nathan Wheeler owned a 

[ 291 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



FooUhatch slave and later owned more than one;^ but for all 
that, there was plenty of work to be done and the 
little girls had to help, not only on their stepmother's 
account but also that they might know later how to 
care for households of their own. 

There were the sanded floors, for instance, on 
which no carpets were ever laid. These must be 
swept up, the sand sifted, and freshly strewn again. 
There was the baking in the big stone oven, where 
the fire was built inside the oven and then swept out 
with a wet com-husk broom before the bread and 
pies and cookies could be baked in it. Then there 
were the cows to be milked. Years later Hetty used 
to say that when she was a little girl and went to the 
bam to milk the cows in the winter mornings, she 
often crouched down on the warm bedding where 
the cows had lain and buried her frozen toes in the 
straw to thaw them out. 

There were also butter and cheese to be made ; and 
as for the making of the linen, that was a never- 
ending task ! The flax must be gathered and rotted in 
a running brook and passed through several other 
processes before it was ready for the hetcheling, the 
spinning, the weaving, and the final bleaching. Just 
think of the amount of flax which must be so treated 

^ It appears that these slaves used to spend much of their 
spare time pitching pennies on the stone step outside the 
kitchen door, and when the old house was torn down years 
afterward and this stone step removed, quite a number of the 
big coppers were found underneath and around it. 



[ 292 1 



J 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

for the making of the dozens and dozens of sheets FooUkauk 
and towels and table-cloths that were part of every 
girl's "plenishing." 

The wool also had to be carded and spun, ready 
for weaving into blankets or woolen cloth ; some of it 
was spun into yam as well, which was dyed with 
witch-hazel if gray yam was desired, or with butter- 
nut bark if the color was to be a yellow brown. Even 
then a great task lay ahead of the little girls, for all 
these hanks of yam were destined to be knitted into 
everlastingly long stockings and mufflers. Weary 
must those little fingers have been, notwithstanding 
the incentive which spurred them on — the incen- 
tive of filling the great chests which stood in the attic 
and which must be full to overflowing against the 
time of their weddings ! A girl at fourteen was given 
a chest and was allowed to have all the linen and 
wool she could spin, which was then woven and set 
apart in her chest for her marriage portion, and no 
girl was supposed to be ready for marriage until she 
had knitted a pillow-case full of stockings. Therefore 
were Charity Beach's flax wheel and great wool 
wheel kept very busy. 

The de Forest girls — of whom there were now 
three, Abby, Polly, and Betsey — lived on the hill- 
top just above the Wheelers and were of about the 
same ages ; they were also working toward the same 
end and could not allow themselves to be outdone by 
the Wheeler girls. Therefore there was a friendly 

[ 293 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Fooishauk rivalry among the six girl friends, who had much to 
talk of and to plan for. Of course the Wheeler girls 
were glad that the de Forest girls had brothers ; for 
the young Wheelers of Foolshatch had none of their 
own, and as they all went to school together in New 
Stratford, they undoubtedly had a merry time. 

The year 1793 was a momentous one in both 
families. In that year Grandmother Rhoda, whose 
surname was then Morse and who at that time was 
in her second widowhood, came to live at Foolshatch. 
Nathan Wheeler, who probably felt that she had 
some claim on the property, as it had belonged to her 
daughter Charity, agreed to "lease and letten" to 
her the " new part " of his house. He may even have 
built the new part expressly for her. This wing lay 
to the south of the main house, and Nathan set aside 
for Grandmother Rhoda's use the dooryard in front 
of her part of the house, the garden, one fourth of 
the bam, and all the rest of the four acres of which 
he was proprietor except the older part of his dwell- 
ing-house and a square of land immediately in the 
rear of it. He also reserved for himself " liberty to 
pass and repass** through her dooryard, and to con- 
vey things through her cellar to the one underneath 
his part of the house. 

All Grandmother Rhoda's privileges were given 
to her "during her natural life,*' unless (and here 
comes a very amusing provision, indicating how well 
Nathan knew his mother-in-law), she married again. 

[ 294 ] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

In this case he was to decide whether he should FooUiMek 
like his new masculine relative for so close a neigh- 
bor, and if not, Rhoda with her new husband was 
to seek another home and Nathan was to pay her 
annually the renting value of her former premises. 
If, however, she "became again a single woman,*' 
she was to return to her home at Foolshatch. 
Nathan, even with all his knowledge of Rhoda's 
character, made no provision with regard to a 
fourth marriage, but she surely contracted that 
number of alliances and with her fourth and final 
husband, Jotham Sherman, was in occupation of the 
house in 1806I 

But the chief event of 1793, and the one which 
makes the Wheeler family of so much interest in a 
record of the de Forests, was the love affair between 
little Mehetabel Wheeler and Nehemiah's young son 
Lockwood. The children were so young (Lockwood 
was eighteen and "Hetty" not yet sixteen!) that 
their love-making was received with much disap- 
proval by their respective fathers even in that gener- 
ation of early marriages. Lockwood, however, al- 
ready showed something of the iron determination 
which was later to distinguish him, and the wedding 
finally took place. Mehetabel proved to be a lovely 
and capable wife, and the marriage drew the two 
families even more closely together. 

On December 8, 1797, four years after Hettjr's ^ 

marriage, her father bought a large farm in the 

[ 295 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford village of New Stratford. This farm belonged to 

the Rev. Samuel Monson and his wife and included 
sixty-four acres of land with a house and bam. It 
was situated at the northeast comer of the village 
green and for it Nathan paid $5,583. 

The house was built at the head of a beautiful 
meadow, which slopes downward toward the Housa- 
tonic River, although the river itself is not in sight, 
and all the distance is composed of lovely rolling hills 
and woodlands. Indeed, from this point one could 
see the meadow that had been mowed by moonlight 
for the benefit of the French hussars' horses. The 
dwelling was a commodious one, which faced on the 
highway, while from the rear one looked out on the 
lovely view. 

Nathan's wife and daughters were undoubtedly 
overjoyed to move from the quiet country of Fools- 
hatch to a place of which it was said that it was 
"quite populous and active" and that the social life 
was "by no means stupid or slow." Of course it was 
great fun for Sally and Rhoda Wheeler to come to 
live just across the Green from their friends, Abby 
and Polly and Betsey de Forest. 

This flock of young people were no doubt greatly 
pleased at the decision of the New Stratford Society 
to "obtain subscriptions for the promotion of sing- 
ing" — the establishment, in fact, of a singing 
/ school — while Stepmother Betty was probably 

even more interested in the decision to ring a curfew 

[ 296] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

bell "'at nine o'clock in the evening on the parish Nm Stratford 
expense." 

Sally and Rhoda had not been long on the hilltop^ 
however, before they each had protection of an even 
more effective kind than that afforded by the cur- 
few bell; for in the spring of 1804 Sally gave her 
heart into the keeping of Daniel Nichols of New- 
town, Connecticut, and her sister Rhoda, following 
her example, became at about the same time the 
bride of Josiah Curtis Grant. 

Thus Nathan and Betty were left alone in the 
'* Homestead Farm,'* but Nathan had hardly time to 
be lonely, for he had become a man of much conse- 
quence in the community. He was usually a mem- 
ber of the conunittee of the New Stratford Society, 
a justice of the peace, and a register of deeds — all 
important offices in those days. In addition, he was 
a prosperous farmer, tilling the fields on his various 
tracts of land and caring for his numerous cattle. His 
"cattle mark" is still recorded in the official book 
kept for that purpose : " 3 hapenys underside of the 
off ear and a nick on the uper side of the same.'' 

His house was a great meeting-place for all the 
friends and neighbors. He always had a stock of 
cider brandy on hand for such occasions (" winkum," 
as it was locally called because of the effect it was 
said to have upon the eyes) ; when he died, he left 
a hogshead and two barrels of it safely stowed in his 
cellar. He was probably as temperate as his con- 

[ 297 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford temporaries, but those were days when men thought 

it inhospitable not to urge their guests to drink. 
When, therefore, the neighbors gathered, he would 
bring out the great punch bowl and the tall toddy 
glass, holding about a quart, which always stood on 
the mantel, one glass for the use of all irrespective 
of the number assembled ; and after the glass had 
made several rounds, the company was prepared to 
discuss any subject, no matter how profound. 

Nathan's house came to be called the " Sabba'- 
day House," and every wintry Sunday noon a meet- 
ing took place there, when all would sit around the 
kitchen fire and drink punch and lay in a stock of 
warmth to stand them in good stead during the long 
second preaching in the cold meeting-house. 

But the cheer in Nathan's home was turned to 
mourning when on December 22, 1801, his good wife 
Betty was taken from him. She had indeed been 
a helpmeet to him for nearly twenty years and a 
devoted mother to his daughters. No doubt he 
grieved for her; but his home was lonely after his 
Betty was gone, and only a few months later he 
took to himself another wife. 

This time he chose Eunice, daughter of Nathan 
Nichols of the neighboring town of Trumbull, and 
widow of Captain Jonathan Edwards. Eunice 
brought with her to her new husband's home two 
daughters and a son, so that Nathan's house was 
once more full of the voices of children ; and to these 

[298 ] 



Nehemiah's Neighbor Nathan Wheeler 

children were soon added others, a daughter, Betsey, Ntw Stratford 
bom to them in 1803, and a son, Nathan Nichols, 
in 1806. 

Nathan Wheeler enjoyed his new happiness for 
eleven years, but on April 11, 18 17, when in his 
seventieth year, he died at his Homestead Farm. 
He had ever been an upright and useful citizen and 
his death was a loss to the parish. 

His estate was valued at about ^18,000. The 
Homestead Farm he left to his son, Nathan Nichols 
Wheeler, as well as much other property, and his 
widow was to have her "widow's thirds'* out of her 
son's share, while all the furniture was left to her 
and to her daughter Betsey. The widow continued 
to live in the Homestead with Betsey, but her son, 
"Deacon Nathan N. Wheeler," built a home for 
himself on the opposite side of the highway, at the 
time of his marriage. 

Eunice lived until 1853, when she died, aged 
eighty-five, and her daughter Betsey, who had never 
married, finding the old home too lonely, went with 
all her belongings to live in her brother's home. 
These belongings included all of Charity Beach's 
beloved furniture, which may be seen to this day in 
her brother's house "across the way." The Home- 
stead Farm is still owned by the Wheeler family; 
and although the old house has been destroyed, 
a depression in the meadow still marks the site 
where it stood. 

[ 299 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Nehemiah^s Later Years 

Nno Stratford Iti the dc Forcst household changes were mean- 
while taking place. When we last saw that home, 
the gentle mother, Mary Lockwood, was tending her 
little children; but as they grew older, Mary's 
health began to decline and it became evident that 
she was drifting into "a consumption." As the fam- 
ily Bible of her son Lockwood tells us, she died on 
October 17, 1790, " in the triumph of faith and Chris- 
tian hope and assurance,*' aged forty-five. Nehe- 
miah buried his "amiable Consort" in the new 
burying-ground at New Stratford and caused to be 
inscribed on her headstone these words: — 

^'She sleeps in this bed of Dust, 
Being removed from weeping Friends 
by teariess Death." ^ 

Mary's children were all living at home at the 
time of her death. Abby was nineteen years old, 
William seventeen, Lockwood fifteen, Polly thirteen, 
Philo eleven, De Lauzun nine, and Betsey only five. 

Seven children left without a mother and at a time 

^^^^^^^■^^■^»— ^■^^■^-^^p— — >^— ^— ^^■^— — »— ^■^— ~— — — ^— i^^— ^^— — ^"^^^ ■ 111 ^— ^— «» 

* Nehemiah may have composed this epitaph himself, but 
it is a curious fact that although the foundations of New 
England were so largely composed of granite, which should 
surely have furnished an unlimited supply of gravestones, 
these were almost entirely imported from North Wales, 
many already carved with verses such as the very usual 
one: — 

" As I am now so thall you be 
Prepare for Death & follow me.'* 

[ 300 ] 



Nehemiah's Later Years 



when they most needed one! Mary had been a New Stratford 
loving, tender mother, a "prayerful" one, and they 
felt her loss sorely. 

Three years passed thus and it then became evi- 
dent that Nehemiah had thoughts of bringing an- 
other wife to the inn. This was in the spring of 1793, 
the y^r which has already been spoken of as being 
momentous in both the de Forest and Wheeler 
families. Only one month after Lockwood's mar- 
riage to Hetty Wheeler, Nehemiah followed his 
son's example and on August 28, 1793, was himself 
wedded to Eleanor Hickock,^ who thus became the 
new landlady of the inn. ; 

We may be sure that her life' was a busy one ; 
for the manifold duties which were performed at 
Nathan Wheeler's house had of course to be per- 
formed in the inn as well, since at that period one 
house was much like another in this respect. The 
inn, like Nathan Wheeler's homestead, was a kind 
of "Sabba'day House." Friends who came from 
a distance kept their Sunday bonnets there and also 
their foot-stoves. A great pile of foot-stoves was 
to be seen behind the kitchen door all through the 
week. Then early on Sabbath morning a great fire 
of hickory wood was built, and when church folk 
arrived they would doff their hoods or mufflers and 
put on the Sunday bonnets, and having filled their 

^ Daughter of Joseph and Sarah [Wakely] Hickock of 
Southbury Parish, Woodbury, Conn. 



[ 301 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Nifo Stratford stoves with red-hot coals, would walk across the 

Green to the meeting-house. 

The year following their marriage a little son, 
Charles by name, was bom to Nehemiah and Elea- 
nor. The baby lived only three days, but a second 
son, bom a year later (August lo, 1795), was given 
the same name and proved to be a fine, robust child 
and the darling of his father's heart. 

When Nehemiah married Eleanor he was fifty 
years of age, not very old, and yet he was described 
as being '^ a social and stirring old man." It was also 
said that he was " a faithful overseer and tutor of 
the boys and their manners when rade and boister- 
ous and when throwing stones at the meeting house 
or marking fences." He was, of course, a very well- 
known figure in and around New Stratford, where 
he was in the habit of driving "a sartain oldish 
sorril mair." 

He belonged to the Masonic Order and had been 
for some years a member of the lodge in Stratford. 
In 179 1 he became one of the nine charter members 
of the New Stratford lodge. The night of his in- 
stallation (February 21, 1791) he was raised to the 
second and third degrees (Master Mason), and after 
the proceedings were over, the company adjourned 
to " Brother N. Deforest's house and partook of an 
elegant Dinner." When in due time Nehemiah de- 
cided to leave New Stratford, an elaborate certi- 
ficate of membership was given to him, which after 

[ 302 ] 



Nehemiah^s Later Years 



his death was returned to the lodge, where to this Ntw Stratford 
day it may be seen hanging on the wall. 

A question of great public interest came up for 
discussion in the town meetings at about this date, 
and Nehemiah and Nathan Wheeler were among 
those who were called on to give their opinions. 
There had been two deaths from smallpox in the 
village. What was to be done ? Should they give 
"Liberty for Inoculation" or could any better plan 
be devised by the meeting ? In many of the Connec- 
ticut towns smallpox hospitals had been established 
where " classes," as they were called, were admitted 
and the patients inoculated, whole families some- 
times going into retirement together. Should New 
Stratford, therefore, follow the example of her 
neighbors and approve of inoculation ? After much 
discussion an adverse decision was reached, and it 
was only after three years of opposition that an af- 
firmative vote was finally passed and a hospital 
established. 

At that time Legrand M. Lewis, who was later to 
become Abby de Forest's husband, was one of those 
put in charge of the hospital, and very careful di- 
rections were given for disinfecting anyone who 
had entered the pest-house, even physicians being 
fined heavily for neglecting the prescribed precau- 
tions. 

Another subject, this time pertaining to religion, 
agitated the ecclesiastical society. The Congrega- 

[ 303 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford tional church was then, we know, the official 

church in Connecticut, and Episcopalians in New 
Stratford as well as elsewhere were still obliged to 
pay their rates for the support of the official church, 
and there were many mutterings of dissatisfaction 
among the Episcopalians when rates became due. 
Finally in 1794 Legrand M. Lewis, who was then 
" Society's Clerk," received a letter, a rather start- 
ling one to the society's committee, from a certain 
member of the Episcopalian church announcing: 
" Sir. As I belong to the episcopal Church of North 
Stratford, do not intend paying any more rates 
towards the support of Public Worship at this 
place. I am Sir, etc." 

Thus was the ball set rolling ! Another man was 
a little more explicit: "Having examined the doc- 
trines of the Christian religion as held by the pres- 
byterians ^ I find rather too much of * We can and 
we can't, we will and we won't, we are danmed if 
we do, and we are damned if we don't.' I shall 
therefore in future pay my Ministerial taxes to Mr. 
Baldwin rector of Christ's Church in Trumbull." 

Still another man, who had never as yet "made 
profession of religion," wrote: "I do hereby sol- 
lenmly announce to you and to the world that I am 
an Episcopalian ... as I believe it to be the most 
Duglefying both to body and to soul of all the 
Churches on earth • . . and much less Gingleing 



^ Congregationalists were then often called Presbyterians. 

[ 304 ] 



Nehemiah's Later Years 



than the Presbeterians or Baptists/' He accordingly Ntw Stratford 
claimed " the benefit of an act of the General As- 
sembly of this state in sifch case provided," and 
was thereby saved from the "Gingleing" of the 
Presbyterians and blessed by the "Duglefying" of 
the Episcopalians. 

^ In this wise there were fifteen or more withdrawals 
from the New Stratford Society. The Assembly had 
indeed passed an act releasing Episcopalians from 
the onerous obligation of paying the ecclesiastical 
society tax, but the present defection gave the 
older meeting-house members great concern. 

Nehemiah, however, could not give all his at- 
tention to public affairs at this time. He had 
daughters on that hilltop whose attractions could 
not be hid. Of his children none other married so 
early as had his son Lockwood, but it seems prob- 
able that both Abby and Polly had been "be- 
spoken" as early as 1797. We know that Abby was 
married to Legrand Moss Lewis " Esq." ^ before 
the end of the year, and as indication of the ap- 
proximate date of the wedding we find that on Sep- 
tember 28, 1797, Nehemiah sold him a plot of land, 
which thereafter became the homestead of Legrand 
and Abby. It contained seven acres and lay near the 
meeting-house and Nchcmiah's own home on the 
Green. This tract was at Brushy Ring, the first 
purchase of land which Nehemiah had made on the 






^ Son of Robert and Eunice [Wells] Lewis. 

[ 305 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford hill, and it adjoined property already belonging to 

Legrand's father, Robert Lewis. 

Tradition still tells of Abby^s preparations for 
her wedding. Some of her silver spoons had " coffin- 
shaped" handles, which were even then called "Old 
fashioned,'' but she also had some "Fashionable 
Teaspoons.'* There were silver-plated candlesticks 
and iron candlesticks with brass balls and brass- 
headed andirons and doubtless many other fine 
things of which we know nothing. Her linen sheets, 
many pairs of them, had long been ready, bleached 
and folded away in her wedding chest in the attic, 
each one marked in the comer with a tiny "A" in 
red cross-stitch. 

Abby was a somewhat peculiar young lady, very 
old-fashioned even for those days, rather senti- 
mental, but sweet and gentle. As is still the custom, 
the bride went before the wedding to select the 
furniture for her new home. With such commend- 
able foresight had she thought out all the possible 
contingencies of her married life that she had the 
comers of all the tables carefully rounded off lest 
her children should hurt their heads against them. 
But, alas. Fate decreed that Abby Lewis should be 
childless I 

All the preparations having been made, there was 
undoubtedly a very grand wedding in the old inn 
when Abby and Legrand were made one. On this 
occasion the bridegroom probably wore a "pale blue 

[306] 



Nehemiah's Later Years 



straight bodied coat" and a ''pair of light colored Nno Sirai/ord 
short breeches*'; for these were articles treasured 
by Abby after her husband's death. 

Among her precious belongings she also kept an 
acrostic written by some admiring friend, perhaps 
at about the time of her marriage : — 

'*A flowret grew beside the stream 

B looming both fair and bright 

B ut oh t'was transient as a dream 

Y es fled before the night 

L ike this is life then may we learn 

E ver to improve it as it flies 

W hile others from the right way turn 

I n courage let's pursue the prize 

S oon we shall reach it in the skies." 

Unfortunately Abby's happiness was of short 
duration, eleven years at most. On April 29, 1808, 
when he was only thirty-nine years old, Legrand 
M. Lewis departed this life and was buried at New 
Stratford, which had always been his home. He 
was an able man and had been sent several times 
as Representative to the General Assembly from 
Ripton, or Huntington, as it was then called. In- 
deed, it was said of him that he " stood very high in 
public esteem in church and town, and had he lived, 
would beyond doubt have held a prominent place 
in civil affairs." 

The inn was to see still another wedding in 1797. 
On November i6th, when Polly de Forest was 
twenty years of age, she was "joined in Weedlock 

[ 307 ] 



ff 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford to Samucl Moss MonsoD. He was the son of the 

Rev, Samucl Monson, from whom Nathan Wheeler 
bought his New Stratford farm only three weeks 
after the wedding. 

PoUy^s married life was not very happy and it 
lasted only about five years, for her husband died 
on March ii, 1803, aged twenty-six. One son was 
bom to them on September 3, 1798, of whom, how- 
ever, little is known except that his name was H. 
Nelson Monson. This name is found in the will of 
the child's uncle, Legrand Moss Lewis, who left a 
fund of ^700 to be " laid out in his education under 
the care and superintendency" of another uncle, 
De Lauzun de Forest. The Lewises had no children 
of their own and Uncle Legrand seems to have been 
particularly fond of this little boy, who was not yet 
ten years old when his uncle died. He also made 
this nephew his residuary legatee. The mothers of 
Legrand Lewis and Samuel Monson were cousins, 
which of course made the tie between the young 
men all the stronger. 

The two young widows, Abby and Polly, were 
very close to one another until the time of Polly's 
death in 18 10. Abby was always tender to her sis- 
ter's memory, usually alluding to her as "my poor 
sister Monson." 

In 1796 a desire for change had come over Nehe- 
miah's two older sons, William and Lockwood, and 

[308] 



Nehemiah's Later Years 



they had decided to make a venture in a new lo Ntw Stratford 

cality. Consequently they had bought two acres 

of land with a house, bam, and store on it near the 

"Congregational Church of Easton " in the township 

of Weston, which adjoined New Stratford on the 

west. A year later, the year when his two sisters 

were married, Lockwood, in preparation for a further 

move, had sold his share of the Weston property to 

his brother William. 

These removals seem to have inspired Nehemiah 
also with a desire for ^ change of residence. He 
therefore decided to purchase the land and buildings 
in Weston from William. He may have found the 
New Stratford home too burdensome a care now 
that so many of his family had married and moved 
away, or he may have tired of innkeeping; but the 
reason given was the wish that his son Charles might 
have the advantage of being educated at the Acad- 
emy^ which was established that year in Weston. 
As the boy was, however, at that time only two and a 
half years old, he seems over young to have profited 
by such scholastic advantages. Still, the opportunity 
was tempting. The Academy prospectus announced 



^ The Staples Academy is still to be seen in Easton, as 
the little village is now called, with its little square cupola 
and wide old clapboards, where "children and youth" arc 
instructed as they were over one hundred years ago. It was 
founded and endowed by Mr. Samuel Staples and for three 
quarters of a century it ranked among the leading educa- 
tional institutions of New England. 



[ 309 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford " Strict attention paid to the deportment and morals 

of children and youth'' and also said that among 
other studies to be taught were Latin, Greek, and 
oratory. All this for $i per quarter! Yes, it was 
certainly tempting! 

Nehemiah now began active preparations for leav- 
ing New Stratford, where he had lived for the last 
twenty-two years. In order to simplify his holdings 
of land, he sold off all his outlying tracts — his 
Moose Hill property, his nine acres at Bowles' 
Swamp, his seventeen acres at Little Faun Hill, and 
his tract of land at Lattin's Mill with one half of the 
mill itself, which was situated on the Great Halfway 
River. It was at about the same time that he sold to 
Legrand M. Lewis for £130 ^ his lot containing seven 
acres at Brushy Ring. 

On September 15, 1797, ^^ sold to Nathan 
Wheeler, Samuel Beardsley, and Samuel Wheeler 
for $2500 the old inn and the fourteen acres of land 
which surrounded it. He was not yet, however, quite 
ready to make the final move ; for his two daughters 
were about to be married and there were also many 
preparations for removal still to be made. There- 
fore he reserved to himself the right to reap and re- 
move the crops then on the land and to occupy the 
house and grounds until the fifteenth of the next 
May. 

^ Money was still often reckoned in English currency in 
the country districts. 



[ 310 ] 



ACADEMY AT EASTON, AS IT LOOKED IN I 799 AND STILL LOOKS TODAY 



Nehemiah's Later Years 



After having thus divested himself of most of his Nm Stratford 
landed interests^ Nehemiah finally, on March 31, 
1798, completed the purchase of William's property 
and paid him £400 for the land in Weston which the 
latter had bought two years before. 

Thus the old inn was left still facing on the " Place 
of Parade," as the public green was often called after 
war time, but no longer under the efficient manage 
ment of Landlord de Forest. This was not, however, 
the last time that the de Forest name was to be con- 
nected with the house. Hepzibah de Forest, Nehe- 
miah's sister, as we knew long ago, married Milton 
Hawley, and many years later (in 1807) Hepzibah's 
granddaughter, Jane Hawley, who was then living in 
New Stratford, was married to Linson de Forest ^ 
from that house. Then in 1 840 Jane's daughter, Mary 
Jane de Forest, was also married from this house, 
but she was the last de Forest who ever lived there. 

Later a school was kept in the old "front room*' 
— a school attended by some of Hetty Wheeler's 
nephews as well as by many other boys and girls, 
some of whom are still living and who well remem- 
ber the old blue-and-white tiles around the fireplace 
in that room. 

Alas and alas! these tiles — the ones with the 
scriptural subjects about which Nehemiah's first 
wife Mary used to tell stories to her little ones — are 



^ Grandson of Benjamin de Forest and Esther Beardsley 
of Ripton. 

[3"] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



New Stratford no more to be seen. A frightful crash was heard one 

day in the front room and on investigation it was 
discovered that all the old tiles had fallen out and 
not even one remained unbroken. 

Soon after this calamity the house was taken 
down, and now the only visible trace of Nehemiah's 
old home is the flat stone in the public green which 
covers the well from which his children and his chil- 
dren's children drank. 
Weston In 1798 Nehemiah left the old hilltop home and 
went to live in his new house at Weston. This house 
stood directly opposite the Academy. It was large — 
two stories high, with a tiny peaked porch over the 
door and long rows of windows across the front. It 
was really quite necessary that Nehemiah's house 
should be a large one; for it is said to have often 
sheltered his various married children as well as 
his immediate family. 

As for the store, he took one of his younger sons, 
Philo, into partnership, and the "Centre Store'* was 
run by "Nehemiah Deforest & Son," They sold 
general merchandise and of course, like all store- 
keepers in those days, had a license to sell wines and 
spirits, and they apparently did a good business. 

This prosperous life amid new surroundings did 
not last long, however; for although we have no de- 
tails of his death, we know that Nehemiah lived only 
* three and a half years to enjoy his new home. Upon 
the eighth day of December, 1801, he found himself 

[ 312 ] 



Nehemiah^s Later Years 



"weak in body but of Perfect mind and memory/' JFfium 
and proceeded to set his affairs in order and to make 
his last will and testament, knowing that the time 
was at hand when he must " die and quit this vale of 
tears," He declared rather quaintly that he would 
"give and bequeath" to Eleanor all the fumiture 
which she had brought with her upon "our intermar- 
riage," and the list of her plenishings is a goodly one. 

The list of Nehemiah's own personal effects in- 
cluded many interesting items of old fumiture which 
his descendants would much like to own : an old oak 
chest, various other chests, a chest and drawers, 
fiddle-backed chairs, fire-dogs, warming-pans, pewter 
articles, tables both round and square, silver tea- 
spoons and tablespoons, and no less than five bed- 
steads, all of them with under beds and the usual 
appurtenances — none too many, though, for his 
large family. His library consisted of the following 
books only: "Great bible, Flavel Works,^ Scripture 
truth. Singing book, 12 N^ Evangelical magazine* 
Dwight's Geography, Life of George Whitefield," 
The only real estate which Nehemiah then owned 
was his property at Weston, 

Everything that was not willed to Eleanor was 
divided by Nehemiah among his children.* William 

^ Flavel's best-known work is Husbandry Spiritualized, 
1669. 

^ For an account of Nehemiah's children see Appendix, 
p. 301. 

[ 313 ] 



Nehemiah de Forest 



Weston and Lockwood, he said, had already received their 
shares. Polly and Abby each had had a "setting 
out/* De Lauzun was to have one third of his por- 
tion deducted on account of the education which his 
father had given him. Philo and Charles were to 
share alike, and Betsey was to have half as much as 
her brothers. 

Three neighbors were summoned to witness the 
will, and all earthly matters having thus been duly 
attended to, "Mr. Nehemiah de Forest" departed 
this life on December 9, 1 801, in the fifty-eighth year 
of his age. 

His grave is yet to be seen in the cemetery at 
Easton near the Baptist church, and its quaint in- 
scription is still visible : — 

"The wise, the just, the pious and the brave, 
Live in their deeds'and flourish from the grave; 
Grain hid in the earth, decoys the peasant's care. 
And evening's sun sets but to rise more fair." 




"2^^^. 




END OF VOLUME I 



IIQH . CRtCUUTtNO 



DbbDMS'lbl 




MAP OF HUNTINGTON (RIPTON) AND 

From the United Sutes 




lONROE (NEW STRATFORD), CONNECTICUT 
jological Survey 



mm^. 



\